In honor of graduation season and the anniversary of when I walked across that stage a year ago, I wanted to make a little guide for those of us feeling unsure of what's next.
You've done more than enough studying, so I want to give your brain a break and give you three simple tips as you set off on your post-graduate journey.
1. Let Go
The moment you graduate, perhaps, even before then, there is this artificial pressure that may make you feel that you must find your forever job. The first job you get better be a good one because that is where you'll be for the rest of your life. You also have to be in the same field of study you spent all these years getting your degree in.
While your logical brain may know that reality not to be true, your emotional side couldn't agree more with that school of thought. The problem is, our emotional conscious often is much louder than our logical thoughts.
I want you to know that it is not only okay to be unsure of "what you want to be when you grow up," but it is natural. For the past 15 or so years of my life, I was planning on playing professional baseball, that was the career path I had chosen.
When college baseball came to a close, there was a brief feeling of what's next. But that didn't last long because of my efforts in developing multiple passions (Check out How to Live Life With No Plan B). I had to transition to a new journey, one that was far from baseball and one that I hadn't necessarily studied for in school.
In my undergrad I studied multimedia journalism and for my master's I studied digital media. The entire time I was in college, I knew I did not want to be a journalist and I did not want to work for a media company.
While the skills that I learned in college are absolutely involved in what I am doing now, I'd say my career path reflects that much more of a business major as opposed to a journalism major.
You graduated from college, and that alone is an accomplishment that will open up so many doors.
The best picture I can draw for you is one of my uncle. Graduating with a degree in musical theatre, he has since become one of the nation's top elder law lawyers. Yes, you read that right. One of the best lawyers in his field studied musical theatre in school.
It is so important to teach yourself to let go of unrealistic expectations of knowing what you want to do for the rest of your life. When you buy into letting go, there will, of course, still be pressure, but it won't be from feeling like you're confined to a box that doesn't actually exist.
2. Cast a Big Net
This was a lesson I learned as I was trying to find a place to play baseball after high school. I was essentially applying for jobs. I would research schools where I wanted to play (places I'd like to work). I would contact the program's coaches to express my interest and send them my statistics (apply for the job). And I would reach out to all schools, big and small (cast a big net). This process landed me a few "interviews" before I accepted the position to play for Lynn University.
I am a big believer in two theories: "you never know unless you ask" and "you don't know who they know." These two quotes are the foundation of the cast a big net idea. Why drop one line in the water that, at best, only brings back one fish? Why not toss a whole net out there that will let you catch an entire school. Sure you might pull in some seaweed, maybe an old beer can, but you will also find a lot of fish.
When looking for what's next after graduating, be the best fisherman you can be. Cast the big net, talk to a lot of people, try a variety of things because you never know what you could pull back in.
3. Do, Do, Do
No, I'm not singing or saying you should be either unless that is what makes you happy, but I am encouraging you to do a lot of things. Find things that you've always wanted to try your hand at and go all in.
My "do, do, do" has been speaking. I have always loved helping others; I know the lessons that I have learned throughout my journey can do just that. I began by reaching out (casting a big net) to all of the high schools and middle schools in my area to speak with the students. Eventually, I got an opportunity that turned into another and another. I have spoken at six schools and even have made return visits to some of them. I have begun speaking to professional business organizations as well as work with professional baseball players. All of these opportunities have stemmed from me doing.
Your "do, do, do, do" can be speaking too, starting your own business, or something completely different. What you do is not nearly as important as the act of doing itself.
These three ideas aren't going to solve your problems completely, but they will get you started on the right track. Know that it's okay to be unsure; you're not the first person to feel that way, and you won't be the last. So, let go, cast a big net, do, do and do some more, and know that you'll get to where you want to go.