Congrats on graduating this year! No matter where you're graduating from - grad school, undergrad, high school...or even preschool. Here's what you need to know about surviving the next phase of your professional journey.
1 - You ain't seen nothing yet - This year you've been at your best. It took a while for your mercurial talent to become an academic behemoth, but you finally figured out how to navigate the turbulent waters of your educational institution. You're like Macaulay Culkin in the early 90s. That's right...you're $500 million in box office gross in 2 years for Home Alone 1 and 2. Basically unstoppable. You're comfortable in your surroundings, know your friends and have the entire routine down pat. Chances are you probably littered the stat sheet with career numbers in grades. Kind of like how NBA players always seem to play better in years that their contract is up But hold on ace. Things are going to change in very big ways and your world is about to get a whole lot bigger. Let's get one thing straight. Graduation isn't a celebration. It's a forced retirement ....like a golden parachute if you will. You are being phased out for fresh new blood.
2 - The stakes will get higher - The competition increases as you survive and advance. As does the stress, pressure...and rewards. Think back to your Angry Birds sessions. Each passing level gets harder as you go. It may seem overwhelming, but remember what got you here. Practice and persistence. Accept the fact that you know very little and don't have all the answers at the beginning of this new adventure, but know that you can definitely find the answers.
3 - You're unique, but your situation isn't - We all think our situations are unprecedented. Believe it or not...the phrases 'I have the worst teacher ever,' or 'I have to work crazy hours' have all been said by millions of others. The truth is, so did the kids in the semester before you. And so will the kids that come after you. The enormity of your difficulties is more played out than a Justin Bieber song. Just ask your teachers. They taught lecture halls full of stressed out kids before you and will probably go through hundreds of other kids long after you leave. Before Bieber Fever, it was Hammer Time (Google it)....and way before that it was Beatlemania. Want to be unique? Thank these people that have made it their life's mission to make you and kids like you better in some way. Be humble about your situation. Millions have had your difficulties. Billions have had far more.
4 - Retirement is forever - Time flies. Very quickly this new journey you're embarking on will become an old journey. Before you know it you will be given another pink slip (or a 'degree' as they eloquently call it). Then, you'll be out on the street. Polishing off your LinkedIn profile, begging random people to look at your resume and stressing out about your next step. Take a breather and pause time as much as you can before this journey ends. Wake up early, stay up late. Disconnect the outside world and live in the bubble for as long as you can. It's just you and your classmates in there. Because once that bubble pops, it pops forever. Nothing will be the same. Your summer vacation becomes permanent and next semester never comes. You're done that chapter for good.
5 - People matter - As your world gets bigger and journeys become longer you'll notice a change in who you spend your time with. Maybe you were a son when you started. Now you may be a father. It may have taken 30 years or so, but hey at least you finally got a promotion. You're slowly going to realize that everyone's kind of swimming to Hawaii, and no one is really ever going to get there. There really is no finish line. So while you're stuck in Waterworld like Kevin Costner you may as well enjoy the process. You'll need people to help you and people will need you to help them. After all, the Pacific is deep and Hawaii is far. It also has volcanoes. But who knows? The more you help other people find their Hawaii's the quicker you may end up getting to yours.
Graduation is the only time you'll celebrate being fired. Your educational institution is downsizing and your horizons are about to be super-sized. Don't worry, the next adventure you're embarking on is probably is as exciting (or more) than the one before it. Like in all journeys, people are going to matter. The dining hall is a microcosm of the world you live in.
And who you are is really defined by who's sitting next to you.
About the Author:
Sajeel Qureshi is the VP of Operations at Computan, a digital marketing and software company. Computan serves as the digital department for numerous businesses throughout the globe ranging from start-ups to multinationals. He has a degree in Business Administration from St. Bonaventure University and MBA from Eastern Illinois University.