"So, what's next?" The dreaded words heard by last semester graduating seniors -- a question that can be met with pure joy, trembling fear or something in between. Maybe you already have post-college plans figured out and will sit back and end your last semester with a peaceful mind. But for the rest, the last few months resemble a chapter in life that's about to close. This transition period can be a scary time, and the pressure to know exactly what it is that you're doing next can feel confusing.
As someone who's been there-done that, here are 5 tips to keep your last semester as stress-free and joyous as possible.
Leading up to graduation, many of your friends and classmates will have job offers, travel plans, graduate school acceptances or something else that portrays that they have it together. As the social comparison builds up, you might feel that haven't done enough or are somehow behind. The more you compare, the more likely you are to forget that most people at a traditional graduate age feel insecure about what they're doing. In the "real world," everyone has a different path. This path nearly is never linear, and a great deal of opportunities come by chance. Even the most seemingly put-together people drift from their laid out plans, and pursue trajectories in a completely different direction. Comparing yourself to someone else's path will only hinder your own growth.
In the midst of coursework, don't lose sight of your well-being, mental and physical. Constant all nighters and 12 hours a day at the library aren't sustainable behaviors that will translate well into a healthy lifestyle for your future. Take time for self-care, even if it's as simple as having a non-work related conversation with a friend over lunch; take a walk, watch some T.V, continue a workout regime, treat yourself to a massage. Whatever it is, make a conscious effort to remove yourself from stressors and actively engage in things that make you better.
Increase your chances of whatever it is that you want to do by taking the next steps. Visit your college's career center, prepare a resume, polish your social media networks as such LinkedIn, pursue internships and contact those who are where you want to be. If you want a job, start applying. If you want to take some time off, define what that means for you.
You've probably heard that learning happens both inside and outside the classroom, and that will forever remain true. At times, you might not understand how your applicable your skills are because your intentions for your future have changed. Even if your degree doesn't directly match your future career, you will continue to hone and apply the skills and networks you've gained during your studies.
Find the beauty in not having an exact plan. This will open you up to jobs and experiences you haven't considered before. The unknown can be beautiful and empowering which you don't have to approach in fear. Finding the positives within your current journey might not give you all the answers you're looking for, but will definitely make it a more pleasant one.
At this time, keep sight of your goals, but don't forget to set aside some time to congratulate yourself, because you've worked your butt off.
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