Looking back, there will be so many things that you wish you would have known about what to expect after college.
The good news: This is a well-worn path. And one that these nine experts, who we've tapped for best advice, know well of. After all, they not only survived the post-grad years but went on to thrive in their careers. Hopefully, these insightful tips will help you as you begin finding your way and figuring out how to navigate in the “real” world during this transition phase.
Remember that every decision that you make should be yours—own it.
Hats off to us all!
Save Every Penny You've Got
The Post-Grad Blues Are Real
"Be patient, be kind, be uncomfortable. This time, post-graduation, is very stressful. Constantly being bombarded, externally and internally, by the big 'What are you doing with your life?' question. But realizing that everyone is asking themselves the same question really helped me be okay with not being comfortable, giving me the confidence and patience to make my own path.
Seek out a financial advisor, or some means by which to manage your money effectively, no matter how little you have or make. Time is extremely valuable, spend it wisely! More than money, I wish I'd really taken stock of how I spent my time. Getting up earlier, going to a friend's gig versus picking up an extra shift, etc. Also, keep learning. I personally wish I'd known more about craft schools, workshops, and apprenticeships upon graduating. They can be expensive, but many times there are scholarship opportunities and/or work study options."
—Jessica V. Gatlin, artist
Making New Friends Is Hard, But Networking Is Easy
"I graduated from college during a financial crisis, with a degree in finance and no job prospects. And I wasn't a standout student by any means. It was rough. The only reason I started a music blog, that ended up leading me to a full-time job, is because I was bored, depressed, and felt the urge to do something that made me happy. Starting Pigeons & Planes did that for me, but it didn't lead anywhere at first. I was connecting with people on Twitter and Facebook, but I was nowhere close to getting a job.
Pay Your Dues
"The first few years of your career—if you're lucky enough to land a job in your field of choice right away—are going to suck. Learn from it. Learn what kind of boss you hope to someday be, and what kind of boss you'll never be. Say yes to everything and work as hard as you can. How much you succeed in these early years will set you apart from your peers later on. You'll never have more energy than you have right now, so if there's ever a time to be pulling late nights in the office, it's now. Your older self will thank you."
—Gabrielle Korn (@Gabrielle_Korn), digital editorial director of NYLON
You Are In Control Of Your Life
Nobody Expects You To Have It Together
Forget About College
"My advice is to forget about college as quickly as possible, seriously. I’d suggest working and interning at cool and interesting places straight out the gate. Because to be honest, no one EVER asks about my college experience, but they ALWAYS ask about my time spent at engaging and forward-thinking companies like Opening Ceremony and NYLON. That’s what really matters."
Take Your Time
"If you want to get good at something, put in your time. By 'time' that doesn't mean one month or three. Spend at least six months to a few years getting good at something, depending on what it is of course, and learn as much as you can with as much humility as you can.
Get A Degree On Your Own Terms
"Go to college or embark upon a professional education when you are ready. An education should be something that enriches your life and is a meaningful investment of your time and money. I went to pre-college and started a program right after high school. I dropped out. I sat out for several years, and during that time I endured shame from family and others, but I went back to school on my own terms and continued on to get my master’s degree."
—Kim Jenkins (@kimjangles), visiting assistant professor at Pratt Institute
Avoid Ordering These Drinks At The Bar
And now an added bonus from us. All of these are a dead giveaway that you're fresh out of college and haven't adjusted to a real bar menu. Leave all the red SOLO cups of your fratty past behind. You're welcome ;-)