Graduation is a time for celebration. After all, receiving your college degree is a major milestone. For many, though, it is also a trigger for graduation stress and anxiety. How will you get that first real job? Where will you live? How will you carve out an independent life for yourself?
So we asked members of the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) this question:
What’s your best tip for someone dealing with post-college graduation stress and anxiety?
So take a deep breath, then enjoy these insightful answers…
1. Normalize and Create a Plan
Stress and anxiety occur when you are not ready for the situations that will come ahead. The best way to tackle this is to just normalize yourself and develop a plan. Take your time and create a plan and strategy as it relates to your profession, extracurricular activities, finance, family and friends. If you have a plan and you execute per your plan, then it will be less stressful.
2. Realize It’s Not as Important as You Think
Remember how stressed you were about high school? It didn’t matter that much in the end, did it? At almost every phase in your life where you felt stress and anxiety, you can now look back and see that it wasn’t actually such a big deal. Most successful people didn’t have it figured out upon graduation, so don’t sweat it. Go gain experiences to make you a better human and have some fun.
3. Conduct Informational Interviews
Post-college, I conducted 300+ informational interviews with people about their career paths. I asked where they were at 22 and how they got to where they are today. Informational interviews relieve your anxiety because they give you a platform to connect with someone who has been there and done what you want to do. And, they’re a great way to learn that not everyone has it figured out post-college.
4. Be Brave
Remember, this is one time in your life where you can embark on almost any journey you choose if you are brave enough, so never settle for what you think you “should” do after college. With a degree under your belt, you’ve worked hard. If you want to travel the world for a few months or work in a different field than what you just studied, be brave enough to do that. Life’s short. Be brave with it.
5. Learn to Say ‘Yes’
If you’re stressed and confused about where your life is headed, why not say “yes” to opportunities that come your way? Even if you’re facing an opportunity that’s out of your industry or out of your comfort zone, say “yes.” Try it for a while — you can only grow from experiences, even bad ones. You never know where it may take you.
6. Try Things
One of the least valuable lessons formal education teaches us is that everything has a playbook and that everything is linear. Once you’re in the “real world,” the best thing you can do is to get a wide array of experiences in and around your expected career, to ensure that it’s a fit. These include social, informal and formal experiences with the kinds of people you will be working with.
7. Shadow to Know
Make a list of five industries or job types you are considering and identify people you know currently operating in that industry or role. Ask if you can shadow them for a couple of days to get a feel for what it’s really like. It’s an illuminating insight into the unknown, a great relationship building exercise, and will help you start to parse out the best options for your future.
8. Work Your Network
One of the best ways to get a job is by knowing someone who works at an organization or who knows someone who makes hiring decisions at a company. Don’t be ashamed to ask friends, family members, professors, etc. for introductions or to put in a good word for you. If you want to start a business, be open to beginning by working for a startup so you can learn a lot of skills on the job.
9. Take Some Time to Refocus
Many graduates spend the better part of five to 10 years finding their footing in the job world. Do what many Europeans do, and take some time off. It’s okay. You may be subject to cultural conventions, but the best thing you can do is refocus on your goals and what you’d like to achieve. Thinking about your “why” will help you move in a constructive direction.
10. Don’t Panic and Throw In the Towel
If you can’t find the kind of job you want in the first few months after graduation, work hard at any job. We are all familiar with the vicious circle: How can I gain experience when everyone is looking for someone experienced? Bear in mind that a lot of employers will choose a 23-year-old with a BA and a volunteering background over a 25-year-old with an MA and an empty CV.
11. Find a Purpose
We’ve all been there — it’s not a fun time to have the real world come crashing in and disrupting your college life. However, there’s something to be said for having a sense of purpose. I’d tell a recent college graduate to find a passion project and dive right in. They should find a job that pays their bills, but gives them enough time to pursue something that provides them with meaning.
12. Practice Meditation and Keep Busy
The first step is often the hardest part of the journey. Stepping out of a routine, such as education, and moving to a job setting or job searching routine can be uncomfortable. Silencing the negative thoughts regarding your next move through meditation and leaving your routine in a positive way is a great first step. Practice yoga, be in nature, practice service to others, volunteer or find a mentor.
Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched Business Collective. This free virtual mentorship program helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.