Recent Grads, Meet the "Real World"

I would like to congratulate all recent graduates on completing a major stepping stone in your lives and future careers! How amazing does all your hard work, countless sleepless hours, and liters of coffee taste now? As a recent graduate, I can attest that it tastes pretty good.


However, upon graduation, the obvious question becomes “now what?”


The “real world” can be a slap in the face initially for college graduates. We are told repeatedly for four years that everything we do is amazing; we are amazing; our ideas are amazing; we have amazing alumni waiting to hook us up with amazing jobs...In short, our lives were nothing short of AMAZING! Accordingly, our expectations got to be amazing, too.


Then, graduation. But after the big day...then what?  For many of us: nothing. While some already had jobs lined up and others were moving on to graduate or professional school, many others stepped into a void. The jobs weren’t lined up for us. Nobody was waiting at the other end with a ready-made career for us. We left the stage at graduation feeling on top of the world; a few months later, we felt lost.


If you can relate to this feeling, it may be because we have been fed the false narrative repeatedly that everything is going to work out right away when we graduate. It is because we are lacking in the one concept that college totally failed to prepare us for...a true sense of time. For most twenty-somethings, a day feels like a year--especially if you haven’t reached your goals yet.  So, instead of trusting ourselves and knowing that time is all that stands between our expectations and our reality, we felt like something has failed us.


It’s not because we are stereotypical, entitled Millennials who believe that just because we graduated we should have our “dream” job. It’s because when we enrolled in our colleges, we were told that our job placement was going to be spectacular. Why wouldn’t we expect to have THE job after graduation? From the beginning of college, it was made pretty clear to us that the school we were attending was going to “hook it up.” And that, right there, is the reason it is hard for us recent grads to grasp at first that networking takes time. Finding a job takes time.  Transitioning into the real world also takes time. Might I add that we grew up during an age where common expectation for anything was that it would happen instantly. Instant messaging, online shopping with overnight shipping, smartphones . . .ring a bell?


It’s a very overwhelming feeling, having studied so hard and believing you were on your way to finding your passion and life purpose, to be greeted with pages of job applications that require 3-5 year’s experience. We were taught to expect instant greatness, with all its rewards. We’d be the generation that didn’t need to “pay its dues” (another archaic and antiquated notion, or so we thought).  We were led to believe we would get to skip right to the good part.


We were wrong.


Welcome to the real world!  Allow us to welcome you and your $200,000 degree with a position that merits $15.00 an hour.


Here’s another dose of reality many of us had to experience. Until you take that first job doing something you didn’t exactly dream about in college (likely one with long hours and low salary--how else does one start repaying her crushing student debt?), you won’t begin to gain any of the experience necessary to demand a raise, get a better job and continue carving out what you want your career and your world to look like, or what Millennials want our work world to look like;


“New opportunities to change or advance one’s career are prioritized, and individualized, flexible work arrangements are the model of the future.” -Jared Meyer


We don’t settle or take no for an answer, but recent graduates need to be mindful that we are the ones assimilating into a system that has been in place for centuries. It is all a process.  


Now what?


Well, I think about it this way.  Any job is an opportunity and a privilege. Like so many other things, it’s what you make of it. And guess what?  Life IS amazing. We should never shrink our goals and dreams! But what we do need to do is build a bridge between our expectations (those college promises) and the reality of our current situation. We need to build connections with people who are already doing the damn thing.  That way, we can continue learning and working towards being amazing at “adulting,” too.


What do you think?



***I write from my experiences, for it is the only thing I can write most honestly about, and I understand that not everyone is able to relate to me or has had the privileges that I have had. My intent in writing this Blog is to open a conversation where people of all backgrounds can voice and engage in conversations about their experiences and opinions on the topics I present. Thank you for all your feedback! ***