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Embracing life after college (WHAT TO EXPECT IN THE REAL WORLD!)

Yay! Finally, I will be graduating in a few days! I am soo excited to work, build my own career and have my own money!” Oh yes, that was me exactly 6 years ago. I was so thrilled to leave school and start my journey as a working adult. I mean, who wouldn’t be after 15 years of studying, right? And as naive as I was at that time, I imagined myself having a wonderful and stress-free life after college as a working adult in the city. But oh boy, I was so wrong! Life after college wasn’t as sweet as candy. And embracing those changes was so tough that I had to tell myself over and over again “Alright girl! Just one step at a time, one more step and you’ll get by”.

Okay, you might say that I am being a little bit overly dramatic here. But really, post graduate life can be very stressful! Well, depending on how you set your expectations though (haha!). So if you are unsure on what to expect in your life after college, then hear me out with these 3 important things.

1. Job Hunting is something that you’d need to be emotionally prepared for!

Just a few days after our graduation, my best friends and I eagerly went to Cebu City to look for jobs. We went to every company we knew and passed our resumes. All of those companies said that they’ll call us back after reviewing our resumes but only about 5% of them called.

So what I am trying to say here is that job hunting can be cruel and super competitive. You might say “Applying for jobs? Nah, that’s easy! I graduated with honors!”. Oh dear, let me be the first one to introduce you to REALITY.

Job Hunting, especially for fresh Graduates, is not easy! You are supposed to standout in a sea of over a hundred applicants with probably the same degree and level of experience as you have! Not to mention that you are also most likely to compete with those who have already gotten X years of experiences in the field.

So let me tell you, manage your expectations, life after college, especially job hunting can be your nightmare. Prepare yourself. Be authentic and master that amazing working attitude because most companies value attitude over skills . Remember, skills can be learned but a good attitude? You can’t train it – someone either has it or not.

2. You might not find the job that you are dreaming of

When I graduated college, I had already pictured out what my dream job would look like. I pictured out myself sitting in a desk, working and debugging codes. Just like most of the fresh graduates out there, I wanted a job that is related to my course. “I didn’t study BS Computer Engineering for 5 years just to end up working in a call center industry!”, those were the exact same words I said to myself at that time.

But life was such a tease because I actually ended up getting one (haha!). Yes, I ended up working as an IT customer service associate that has almost the same Job description with BPO jobs. I didn’t get my dream job and it made me so frustrated for let’s say, almost a year? Haha!

But looking back, I am so proud of myself for accepting that job at that time. I may not have gotten my dream job but I have actually gained these precious experiences in people & business management, effective communication and many more. I was given a lot of opportunities, training and even had the chance to travel to different places, here and abroad, for FREE. In short, I had a successful career that also allowed me to support my family and I am beyond grateful for that!

So what I am trying to say here is that people rarely get their dream job at first. Or shall I also say, people rarely love their first jobs. This means that if ever you’d be in this kind of situation after college, then remember that you are not alone. Remember to be grateful because you finally made it! After submitting your resumes to x number of companies, you finally got a job offer and that’s something to be grateful about.

Give yourself some time to adjust. Yes, it wasn’t your dream job but that doesn’t mean that having it was such a waste of time. Well, don’t get me wrong, I totally want people to go for their dreams. But sometimes, we need to take a step backward in our career to gain experiences necessary for us to move forward and soar high. Plus, I am pretty sure the job covers your rent & bills, right?

So think of your “new” job as a stepping stone of your long term career goal. And if it really isn’t your type of job after trying (real) hard, then make the most of your time out of it, leverage on the experiences while searching for a better one. (Dili magpabadlong sa company just because you don’t like the job that you were given of!)

3. You Will Be Lost For a While after college

My life after college was tough, very tough. My first job wasn’t my dream job and at 21, I had a very big responsibility in my shoulder as the eldest child in the family. I was so desperate to start working and support my family that I grabbed the first job offer I got at that time. And so yes, my first few months were so depressing for me.

I was so lost that I often asked myself, why am staying in this company if I am not happy? What is it that I truly want to do with my life? For the first few months, I was dragging myself to work every single day. But having to always remember my big “WHY” kept me going. My “why” was to help my family at that time so it was more than enough for me to shrug all my hesitations and wake up from all of those dramas.

So yes, transitioning from being a student to a working adult in the real world can be depressing for some. Yesterday you were just a student, getting help from your family to get by. And then the next day, you are a working adult, supporting yourself and probably your whole family, too.

But one advice that I can give is to allow yourself to build a strong “why” behind every things that you do. Develop a purpose in life and remember that life after college is tough, but you are tougher. Now, I know that there might be times when you’d feel like you are being left out by your classmates or close friends. But hey, don’t compare yourself from others. We are living at our own pace in this world.

Take your time in getting to know yourself better. Know your strengths that you can leverage on, your weaknesses that you need to work on and build a better future for yourself. And lastly, always and always remember that “Life is a marathon, not a race!”.

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