You know that saying about how you don't know what you have until it's gone? That phrase in no way applies to my college experience. During my senior year, which ended just two short months ago, I embraced every football tailgate, Tuesday night TV marathon spent squished between my best friends in our tiny living room, and dollar you-call-it specials at the dirtiest bar in Iowa City. Then it was over.
Today, I find myself in a strange place called post-grad purgatory. It's somewhere between the glory days of college and the mysterious working world. If you're not familiar with this situation, here is what it looks like. Typically, this place appears to be your parents' house and is occupied by roommates called Mom and Dad. The good news is that your stay is usually all-inclusive and sometimes includes laundry services, if you're lucky. The bad news is that your college friends don't live here and you endure the torture of answering "So, what's next for you?" or "Have you found a job yet?" countless times while simultaneously facing endless rejection from 90 percent of the jobs you apply for. The worst part is it's up to you to get yourself out. Scared yet?
I'm no expert -- actually, I don't even have a job yet -- but I have come up with 10 great ways to empower yourself during one of the most powerless points in your life. At the very least, these activities should keep you occupied and get you ready for the real world (whenever you get there).
1. Catch up with your friends from high school. It might surprise you how easy it is to start where you left off. Also, some of them are bound to be in the same in-between mess you're in, which will make you feel less alone.
2. While you're at it, soak up as much parental love as you can. Although it may not seem like it, you're going to be on your own soon and won't have your dad's stupid jokes or your mom's cookies around. So try to get as much as possible. You'll miss it.
3. You may already know this, but you gain more than a degree after graduating college (hint: step on the scale). Spend some time away from your endless job search by hitting the gym. The endorphins you get from a solid work out might just be enough to keep you from pulling your hair out while re-writing your resume for the 100th time.
4. Now that you're away from the hectic college life, slow down and think about what you really want to do with your life. Maybe you pictured yourself working for a large corporation because of the big money but now have second thoughts about working for The Man. Use this time to think about what's important to you.
5. After thinking a little about what you want to do, it's important to think about where you could live. Have you been dying to break into a big city? Want to stay close to family and friends? Keeping these things in mind while you job search will help you limit the choices and make the search less intimidating.
6. An editor once told me, "Once you start working, you never stop." So why not use this intermission to take a trip? Go camping, take a road trip, or visit friends in other cities. This is a great way to take advantage of your "vacation time" before you have to put in for it at work.
7. Remember that professor who said, "Let me know if you ever need anything"? Now is the time to get in touch. Tell them what you're up to, what kind of job you're looking for, what problems you're running into, etc. Professors have all sorts of contacts who might hire you -- or at least help you get hired.
8. So maybe you have college degree, but that doesn't mean you're above waiting tables or tending a bar. Find a job that will help you save up for impending student loans or that great apartment you've been dreaming of. You'll be glad you had a little extra saved when the bills start rolling in.
9. Read a book. Seriously, when is the last time you read a book that you actually wanted to read? I thought so.
10. After a few months of living the purgatory life, you might think, "Hey, this isn't too bad. Maybe I'll just stay here forever." Think again. Try not to get too comfortable and keep your eye on the prize. With a little luck and a lot of hard work, you'll weasel your way out of the post-grad period and into dream job heaven. Don't forget to thank your "roommates" when you leave.
For more on becoming fearless, click here.
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