As midterms roll around the corner and the turning weather beckons spring break, does it all feel different in your final semester?
I always wonder. I never went into my last year knowing I would graduate. I thought I had four years. But in my sixth semester, after a tumultuous discussion with my parents, it was decided I would graduate a year early. I’d already completed my psychology major but had no intention going to graduate school and picking up a second English major didn’t seem promising to my parents.
Suddenly I was a boat without paddles or water.
A mental tug of war of personalities, I was a party girl and a committed writer. I didn’t know what was coming next.
Ironically that prepared me the most.
Some of you will be lucky. You will have a plan and a determination to stick to it. You will have a job before you graduate, a trampoline for you to enjoy your hard work and success.
But some of you will be lost. That’s okay – you’re about to learn so much. Just never stop trying.
It’s easy to give advice. That’s not my intention. Nor is it my intention to say my life is great. It’s not – it’s like everyone else’s – lot of hard work, effort and reward. If I can make it, then so can you.
When I graduated in 2016, I wasn’t proud of myself. I didn’t walk in the ceremony because I didn’t think I had anything to celebrate. Two years later, I don’t think that anymore.
I was twenty and in my first ever relationship that my parents didn’t support. After living on my own in college, I didn’t want to live with them and have a curfew. But all I had was a lowly Bachelor’s degree in psychology. It didn’t bode well for me on the job market and thus having freedom. But –
– I had a lot of varied work experience. Even if you don’t think you’ll get the job, you have to put yourself out there.
– Elaborate on a detail about yourself. Are you always on time? That’s responsibility. Are you focused? That’s efficiency. Do you organize group hangs knowing not all your friends will get along? You’re a budding strategist.
You have to believe in yourself before you ask anyone else to believe in you.
– Have a mindset growth. Are you garrulous and sometimes speak over others? Admit that you are zealous about your ideas but that you’re not a good listener yet. Do you hate asking for help? Take pride in your independence but be honest about working on being a collaborator.
– Sure confidence sells, but hiring teams are also built on recognizing earnestness. There is no perfect person – the hiring team just wants to know if your views, your personality, your vibe, your output will mesh with their company.
– Rejection will become life for a while. I couldn’t make it out as a writer because I was afraid of rejection. I still had to face it to get a job. I sent applications everywhere. From secretarial positions to school aides – but the silence I got matched my clueless energy. I wanted a job but I didn’t narrow it down to what I wanted to do.
– A job does not have to be a career. A career does not have to define you. But if you want full-time benefits, you’re going to have to choose doing something that you are interested in. It’s how I finally did my alternate route to teaching (The Alternate Route).
You know yourself the best. Be rational – aim for a sustainable field that matches your interests.
– You can love your job and still hate it some days. It’s like loving yourself. You’re awesome and sexy but sometimes you go ham with friends and drink a little too much and the hangover you get the next day? You are not proud. At. All. It’s okay. We all need to blow off steam.
– Fair warning: your first full-time jobs will not be ideal. My first full time job was a front desk secretary for an import and export business. I lasted a day. I was not interested and I realized being desperate for a job to pay for my lifestyle was not worth compromising my joy of production at work. My second full-time job was as a preschool teacher. I loved the kids and teaching was fun despite the awkward singing. But it was not in my job description to change diapers and I still had to do it. But I’m still grateful for that experience. Had it not been for the preschool giving me a chance to teach, I would not be teaching kindergarten today.
– When I started applying to elementary schools, I sent my resume to twenty-four schools in my district and neighboring districts. I didn’t hear back from a single one. I was a brand new teacher and no one wanted to take a risk on me. By fluke, I applied on Glassdoor to a school and within days they started the three part interview process. It was nerve racking. But they gave me a chance and for that I am grateful. I can’t forget that. See your job owes you nothing. You owe it everything you’ve got. So be a hundred percent sure that you’re going to give it your all. That’s when you reap the most rewards.
– Now, I love my job but it doesn’t mean it doesn’t get stressful. There are days I’m not sure if my scholars are learning anything. There are days when I struggle to follow the curriculum when the kids seem restless and need a brain break. But I have my coteacher and a supportive grade team who I can bond with. Who you work with will affect you. So get to know the people around you. You don’t have to be best of chums, but you should have someone you can be yourself with.
The one advice I will impart is that it is never to early to start saving. It’s a struggle constantly being mindful of eating out and going out to movies. I also have to take care of cats! Believe me I try to pamper both of them.
As a teacher, I use an app called Shoparoo that helps my school earn points when I upload pictures of my receipts. When I look back on the list, it helps me keep track of which category of expenditures has increased more than my liking. My bank, PNC, offers Virtual Wallet to students to help budget and even though I’m long past the days of being an university student, I continue to use it to be able to see a bar graph of my spending. Mentally it helps me curb spending in that department.
If you are more of a visual person, there are many more apps you can try according to Forbes. I personally would recommend Mint. Available for both iPhones and Androids, its brightly colored visuals make money management more carefree. It’s a free app – an awesome way to start saving money! – and helps you plan a budget out. I used it while I was in college and was quick to notice and change my drinking habits with friends to spend on dresses instead. 😛
It’s a sad truth but you can’t survive without money. So just be conscientious about it.
As for the rest of adulting that is hinged on you getting a job – you’ll get one. Failing is necessary to build resilience needed to showcase you are a badass who won’t quit at the first sign of stress at work. Take it from me, I was a psychology major who took 12 credits per semester and did better in my writing classes than psych classes. I wasn’t a top dog student, but that’s exactly why I am a teacher. Studying hard is only one facet of a diligent person. It’s not about the studying as much as it’s about your willingness to not quit until you succeed.
As said before, my life’s not perfect. But I’ve built my freedom from ground up to date who I want, to be where I want and to go where I want. If I can do it, so can you.