There is a danger in thinking that you know more than others, or that you have knowledge that other people don’t, and you have a desire to share it. If you give advice, it better be damn good advice. If someone takes your advice and it turns out horrible, it’s on you, player. But, there is also something to be said about not ever giving advice. What if your advice is actually good advice? What if you can help people? Ultimately, writing about what a person should or shouldn’t do after college is more for the writer than the reader. The best way to learn a language is to live where they speak it. The best way to swim is to jump in the water. Want to learn how to avoid being mugged? Get mugged. But there can be an effort to give polite pointers. See that lighthouse? You have to get the boat to shore by yourself. But we were kind enough to leave a light on for you.
Thank you for going to College.
First, you need to understand that you did the right thing. You went to college. The classes you didn’t think you needed? You’ll need them. The grades you got? They meant something. That professor that told you to call or write if you need something? You’ll need them. The first thing you have to remember is that college was not a waste of time and money. People will tell you this, but those people are simply trying to make themselves feel better by making you feel worse. The last job interview I had, the man in front of me took my transcripts and asked me questions about everything on it. What classes did you take? What did you take that class? Who was your thesis advisor? I told him and he actually wrote it down. Both teaching jobs I first got out of college was given to me because I went to college. No, I mean, a specific college. They hired me because of the school I went to and because they heard it was a great school. You can say you don’t need college and that it is a waste of time but, honestly? If you say that, you have no idea what you’re talking about. About anything. At all. Ever.
But getting a job is still going to be really, really hard.
Let’s say that a job interview is a bear. Your college degree is a sword. If you kill the bear, you get to eat. If you don’t, it eats you. That sums up everything you need to know about the interview process. If you don’t beat the interview, you lose. And someone else, with more skills with a sword, is going to kill that bear while you starve. I know there is this thought that if you go to school long enough and get a degree, people should just give you a job. This is probably true. If I ran the world, it would be true because I believe in a fair and balanced socio-economic society based on the needs of all and the desire to work together to achieve a lasting and powerful world. However, we live in a world that pretty much hates you and doesn’t care anything about you. It is war out there. The sooner you learn and understand that, the better.
I applied to over thirty jobs when I graduated college. I got one interview. I was lucky. So get ready for days upon days of applying for jobs. But don’t you dare give up. Don’t you dare. Because there is someone else that refuses to give up. That person will get the job that you were to tired to apply for. Just keep at it.
Paying your Dues
Yes, Bob did get a great job right out of college. Yes, Bob knew a guy who knew a guy. Or he got lucky. Or Bob just is a great dude who deserves a great job. However, you might not be Bob. You might be Steve. Steve is working a really crappy job right now as he works part-time at the job he loves. No, there is no promise that by paying your dues you’ll get a job you want. There is no promise. However, if you don’t try, I promise you that you won’t. Interning or working at a part-time gig or volunteering at a place, getting your foot in the door, is more important than you can possibly imagine. You network. You get to know the system. You gain experience. You see the ins and outs. You get a feel for it. You hear things. People tell you things. You hear rumors of other jobs at other plays. Always, always, always, always, when you are first starting out, always listen. You should be a sponge, taking in anything you can. That thing you heard about from that guy? It might be pointless. Or it might be a lead to a great job. Paying your dues, shoveling the shit, isn’t a perfect way to get a job. It doesn’t always work. But not trying never works. That is guaranteed.
Trust your guts.
At the end of it, though, after all is said and said again, you should listen to your instincts. When you are finished with college, a lot of people will be giving you advice. You should listen to these people. But you should always listen to yourself. This is a time in your life where you can define your destiny. You can create the reality you want to exist in. Only you know your reality, only you know what you want out of life. Trust yourself. If you think you are doing the right thing, chances are that you are doing the right thing. And don’t be afraid. This isn’t the Middle ages. Your family, no matter what, will let you sleep on their couches. You have friends who will let you sleep on their couch. And, if you have to, sleeping in your car is actually an alright experience. You’ll survive. And, ten years from now, when you have the job you’ve always wanted, you’ll understand that college was the first half of your formal education. The struggle to achieve your goals is the other half. The world is dark and hard and tough. But it is also beautiful and kind and forgiving. Never forget that we are all rooting for you. Every single one of us wants every single one of us to succeed. And you will succeed. I promise. Trust me.