‘School’s Out Forever – What Now?’

Fresh graduate concerned about what lies ahead?

Don’t fret– this post should help ease some of your ‘Senoritis’ and post-grad anxieties. We offer tips on how to go about job hunting and adjusting to the next chapter. The rest is up to you. Never let your worries, or fear of failing stand in the way of going after something you desire. Those who persist with ambition and confidence, always make it to the summit, even if it takes several tries…

‘School’s out for Summa…Schooool’s out for EVAAA!’ We’ve all excitedly chanted these infamous Alice Cooper lyrics at one time or another, but the truth is that graduating, especially from University, could be a daunting and anxiety-provoking experience. Many third or fourth year University students experience what is known as ‘Senoritis-‘ a fabricated condition characterized by feelings of confusion, nostalgia for the ‘good old days,’ often a fair amount of procrastination with regard to planning for the next step, and anxiety about what the future will hold as graduation looms ahead. Graduating into today’s fiercely competitive job market can be stressful. Today, over 35% of youth are earning University degrees, which represents a 20% increase in only two decades and this is steadily increasing. This results in the oh too familiar ‘University graduate working in a coffee shop’ scenario- not that baristas aren’t simply divine – it can just be quite frustrating to find yourself working in a field so far removed from the one you studied for three hard years. Don’t sweat it though- everyone goes through this major life change, it’s completely natural! If you are struggling with the new realities of your post-graduate lifestyle, we hope this post helps make your transition a little more exciting and a little less frightening.

Here are some tips on how to cope with the end of one era and beginning of a new…

Recognize Loss and Celebrate Accomplishments: Don’t dismiss the loss that comes with graduating. With any change, even positive change, comes a loss. Recognize the grief that follows leaving something behind before moving on to the next chapter. Cherish your memories and be open to making new ones. Yes your days of sleepless nights in the library with your buddies, likely unhealthy amounts of caffeine, campus hang-outs, and varsity games may have come to an end, but you’ll always remember those times fondly and enjoy even more exciting times ahead. Also, don’t underestimate the importance of celebrating your great accomplishment. Attend your graduation ceremony, even if you think it won’t matter, it’s your moment of pride, and it does matter. A lot. Get your grad pictures taken as well- it will remind you that you’ve accomplished something truly great, or in my case, stop mom from constantly nagging for them.

Explore many Options: Don’t simply consider what you chose to study in school; also look at what kind of jobs your education may have prepared you for in a more indirect sense, and opportunities for which your personal interests and skills might give you an edge. Sometimes we are interested in a subject, but not necessarily working in that field. Or worse, we love a subject but learn there aren’t many job opportunities in that field. Don’t limit yourself to what it says on your diploma if it isn’t getting you where you truly want to be. Try and be open to exploring many interests and options.

Take your Time: Ok so this might run counter to my suggestion of avoiding procrastination, but the truth is, it takes time to find the right career path and job. I know everybody’s in a hurry and it can feel like the sooner you find something the less anxious you will be, but jumping into a job or program too soon, may have you regret it later as you’ll find it only met your short term needs (for money and anxiety-relief) and not your long term needs (for financial stability and satisfaction).

Be Smart about Applying: Don’t just send out a bunch of resume’s and hope for the best. Do your research about companies you’d like to work for. Send a cover letter targeting that organization and follow-up with a phone call after you send in your CV. Let people know you’re looking, friends, family, and even social media (business sites). We live a digital age, but don’t underestimate the power of pounding the pavement and making cold calls- that’s how I got this job as administrator of a Psychology center- a pretty desirable position for a bachelors of psych graduate. Often jobs aren’t listed in the newspaper or on-line. Call companies you would like to work for and talk to human resources. People are more likely to remember speaking to a person directly vs. one more CV complementing the mess on their desk.

Talk to a Professional: If you’re not sure what to do next such as choosing a graduate school program, trade or professional route, or career path, don’t spin your wheels and let your anxiety hold you back from moving towards a solution. Talk to a Career Counsellor, someone who is trained in using tests, assessments, and discussion to help you make choices for your future and finally have a proud answer to the dreaded question everyone seems to love asking you; ‘so what are your plans for after graduation?’ We have an excellent counselor at our center who has a wealth of experience with formal assessments and career/ vocational counseling.It may seem like you are far from your career goals, but your desired end is closer than you may think. The fist step towards attaining the future you want is always approaching it with a positive attitude and conviction that you will get there.

Our sincerest congratulations and best wishes to all those who have graduated this year- from University, or any other long effortful undertaking. I’ll leave you with a quote that always gives me that little kick in the tush I need to move forward;

‘You get some success. You run into some walls, but it’s how tenacious you are, how irrepressible, how ultimately optimistic and tenacious you are about it that will determine your’ success.

– Steve Ballner, Commencement Address at the University of Southern California (2011)

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