A Survival Guide for your First Year Out of College

Today marks a year since I walked across the stage in celebration of the receipt of my bachelor’s degree. The year between now and then has been one of the most challenging and eye-opening of my life. In the year since graduating college, I’ve celebrated a lot of career milestones, however, I still feel I have a long way to go. Granted, I am proud of where I am, but still have lofty ambitions and hope to further grow within my field.

On the day of my college graduation, I was gifted a book called “Freshman Year of Life,” a collection of essays from various writers detailing experiences that took place within their first years after college.

Instead of soliciting likes and other forms of validation by sharing my “On This Day” photo commemorating the one-year anniversary of my graduation with the caption “Can’t believe it’s been one year since I’ve graduated!,” I’ve decided to share a little bit of knowledge I’ve acquired during my “freshman year of life.”

On finding the right job:

Upon completing university, every graduate should prioritize moving forward in their career. The post-grad job search is probably the most stressful and draining part of entering the adult world. When I graduated college, I figured finding a “grown-up” job would be easy. I made decent grades in college, had two internships under my belt, and had developed a diverse skill set throughout the course of my educational career.

But even all of that given, I still didn’t find my “grown-up” job until months after graduation. A lot of job requirements feel impossible to meet, like the need to have three to five years of experience in order to obtain an entry-level position. Other times, these positions don’t pay a reasonable amount. As I mentioned in an earlier article, it’s shitty for companies to require a candidate to have a bachelor’s degree, three to five years of experience, but only pay $12.00 per hour.

When I graduated college, I knew I wanted to work in advertising, however, ad agencies are composed of various departments. When I would go on interviews, I would state that I’m open to working in any department. I thought this would make me appear employable, but recruiters want to know what you’re most passionate about and where your strongest skills lie.

If a recruiter hires you and puts you in a role in any open department, and later on you decide you hate it, this reflects poorly upon you, the recruiter, and the company as a whole.

I currently have a job that some people would kill for, but this didn’t come without hard work and perseverance. The job search was beginning to suck the life out of me, but I never stopped honing and reinforcing my skill sets. I later discovered that my passion is writing, and spending months doing freelance copywriting and web management led me to my current position.

When applying for jobs, be sure your resume is detailed with your skills highlighted, accomplishments listed, and clarity about your long-term career goals.

And don’t give up! I speak from experience when I say that finding the right job is a never-ending process, but God (or whichever higher power you believe in) will eventually lead you to where you’re meant to be.

On making new friends:

As an adult, sometimes it feels like making a good group of friends comes second to finding the right job on the list of things that seem fucking impossible.

Upon completing college, many post-grads opt to move back to their hometowns as a means of saving money. While some find comfort in returning home, others may dread the idea.

Throughout high school, I had a good group of friends in my hometown, but as years went by, I began to realize that we had begun to grow apart. Upon moving back home after college, it quickly became clear how much I had changed in the five previous years, and how much they hadn’t.

I’m thankful we all went to different colleges because it allowed me to explore interests and realize that I don’t really fit in with these people I used to call my best friends.

The more I spent time with my hometown friends, the more I missed my college friends. Unfortunately, now that we all live in different cities, we can’t see each other regularly as we could during the college days.

Making a good set of platonic friends is a bit of a struggle. Good friends are rare, so you’ve got to be selective in who you invite into your life.

Sometimes, your new best friend can be hiding in plain sight, but in order to form that bond, you have to be willing to put yourself out there. Ask that “social media friend,” whose posts you’re always liking, to meet up for coffee. Pick up a hobby and hang out with some of the people you meet while partaking in said activity. Invite your age-adjacent coworkers out for drinks so you can two can gripe about the annoyances that occur during the workday.

If you find yourself struggling to make friends in the post-grad world, remember that there are people with who you are compatible within reach. You just need to be willing to give and accept invitations and be open to new friendships.

On dating:

Chances are, if you come out of college single, you’re probably going to be single for a bit longer. Finding your place in the post-grad world is tough enough without the emotional obligations of a romantic relationship. You’re probably going to have a casual Tinder fling here and there. You may find yourself casually dating multiple people at once, yet liking one of the particular individuals more than the others.

I’m adamantly against ghosting, but I found myself inadvertently engaging in this contemptible behavior when I had forgotten to return someone’s text message for a month.

This person texted me saying “I like how you could never hit me back,” to which I replied apologizing and noting that I had been busy. They then replied saying “I feel like we make time for the things that we want.”

Granted, I saw through this bullshit and knew this person was trying to make me feel guilty with this nugget fake-deep Drake parody Twitter account wisdom. I didn’t feel bad for ghosting them.

The truth is, I am busy 24/7, but I’m busy doing things that will help me move higher up into my career. I’m always at events trying to look for things that will make for a good story, or I’m trying to network with people within my industry.

I don’t necessarily want a relationship, so I don’t really find myself going out of the way to make time for dates. If I have time for dates, then great, but if I don’t, I’m comfortable enough on my own to not go out of my way to squeeze in potential dates.

If a romantic relationship is something you want, then all power to you. However, your priority should be your long-term career goals and your personal health.

Also, if you do plan going the more casual route, you should be clear with your partner(s) about what you want and what you don’t.

On manifesting your dreams:

You cannot “just quit your job and pursue your passions;” at least not right away. If you’re wanting to pursue a career in a creative field, such as writing, music, or theatrical arts, chances are, you’re probably going to work a steady day job to pay the bills while you pursue your dreams in your free time.

Am I saying your dreams aren’t attainable? Not at all, and fuck anyone who says otherwise. However, it is important to look at your long-term goals with a realistic approach. Following your dreams is not as simple as taking advice from an Instagram picture of Elon Musk with a plastered-on quote he didn’t actually say.

I would love to be able to write full-time, but my income would be entirely based on commission from sales of ad space and social media packages. I am constantly writing for various publications in my free time and finding ways to make extra money, but until I am able to make a living by writing full-time, I currently work a 9 to 5 day job as a means of making a steady income.

Luckily, I enjoy my day job and get to use a lot of my skills and talents on a daily basis.

I know I will eventually land my journalism dream job, but at the moment I’m enjoying networking with people in my field and constantly learning how to improve my writing.

The post-grad world may sound daunting, and I’ll admit, at times it is. But there’s an entire generation of post-grads entering the adult world with you. Plenty of your peers are struggling to find their dream job, or their future spouse, or even a good set of friends. Adulthood isn’t always easy, but knowing that everything will work out as it’s meant to is very reassuring.

Congratulations on closing this chapter. May your future endeavors prove fruitful and fulfilling. You’ve got this!

UNT Alumnus | 26 | Lover of music, food, baseball, dogs and world cultures | Curator of incredibly dope playlists

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store