5 Things to Know Before Graduating College
Second semester is settling in, and now’s the time that college seniors usually spend breaking out in stress acne, exhausting the “apply now” button on LinkedIn, and binge eating donuts. These things, for the record, are completely normal, or at least things that consumed my second semester senior year.
1. Get a professional wardrobe, stat. I had two pairs of dress pants in my closet, a plethora of cardigans, and a job offer at an investment firm. I was supposed to start two weeks after my offer and I needed a wardrobe upgrade fast. And cheap. I wanted my power outfit, and luckily there were cost-effective and cute ways to achieve this. I hit up clearance racks at Express, the Limited, and Kohl’s and was able to come out with four pairs of dress pants for under $50 total. As my paychecks began rolling in, I was able to add more than just those basics to my closet, which now makes mornings easier since I have a closet with options!
2. Learn to converse with people your parents’ age (and older). Suddenly, I was surrounded by coworkers in stages of life far past mine. I was in a place where my guilty pleasure of One Direction didn’t fit, and I was hearing references from a time far before I was even a glimmer in my mother’s eye. Getting stuck in an elevator with one of these people seemed terrifying. And then, they became humanized. Just older humans. It’s all about finding a middle ground, asking about weekend plans, family and the traffic on the way to work. But what’s even more important, and far more flattering, is remembering what they said and asking about their daughter’s recital or the family barbecue the next time you see them. Everyone loves to be heard, regardless of their stage in life.
3. Get into a daily routine. Real life, although it can be crazy, is a true wake-up call for a daily routine. Determining a bedtime can make or break your next morning. Getting a good night’s sleep lets your boss know that you take your job seriously, and it keeps you accountable to putting your best foot forward. Walking into work ready to start the day can keep you efficient and happy until you walk out. That coveted “nap whenever” culture of college has to change, and it’s vital to a successful launch into the professional workplace.
4. Balance work life and personal life. This is a challenge I have yet to master. On one hand, our passion and drive as eager young professionals can set us apart. On the other hand, it’s just a job, and it’s the first time we even have the option of separating our lives. So far in my career, I’ve found that avoiding checking work email on weekends and at home has been a healthy way of doing this. It’s okay to check your email in the morning to see what needs priority when you get to work, but don’t set another place at the dinner table for your phone. Nights are about rest, and weekends are about rest. Coming into work rejuvenated and energized can have many benefits, far more than the attitude of work taking over every moment of our lives.
5. Don’t compare yourself to others. Comparison makes you second guess yourself. Comparison makes you stop setting goals and prevents you from celebrating milestones. So, stop. It’s your journey, so embrace it. The opportunities you took were yours and only yours. The pace at which you get promoted is the pace intended for you, so do your career path your way. As long as you work hard and take steps toward your dream career, you’re living the dream.
Seeking a career mentor or frequenting your post-grad resources can really help you feel more comfortable in your new big-kid shoes, and less alone in the hustle of adulthood. It may seem intimidating (it still seems that way to me), but it’s also exciting! So enjoy your last few donuts and mid-day naps, and turn your tassel with confidence!
Did you recently make the jump from college life to the real world? What do you wish someone told you? Share with us in the comments below.
It can be intimidating to step out on your own and build a business from the ground up. As part of our collaboration with Office Depot, we're talking with Selfmade alum and solopreneur Colette Lawrence, the faith-based motivator and relationship builder behind The M.E.E. Movement, about ways in which women in business can find success.
B + C: How did you know M.E.E. Movement was your business to start?
The M.E.E Movement represents motivation, empowerment, and encouragement for women. It is what represents me. I did not know at first that it was my business to start, but then the thought of monetizing what I loved came to me. It scared me, however. I registered the business in July 2020 and have been slowly building my wings since.
B + C: What's one strategy that's helped you start your business?
Thinking through and researching what the requirements are to start my business, and then asking questions of people who are in the business. Not all advice worked; however, it helped me to figure out what I needed to do and not to do.
B + C: Did you always know life coaching would be your entrepreneurial path?
(Smiles) No, I did not. I 'stumbled" on it. I knew that people were always coming to me for advice and I found that I loved having conversations with them, especially with women, young and old.
B + C: What was your most valuable takeaway from Selfmade?
My most valuable takeaway was the first day of training: Get out of your own way. There were a lot of great moments and important takeaways from every presenter. However, getting out of my own way, pushing past doubts, was for me my most valuable takeaway. Doing something that I had never done before took courage. If I do not focus on what is happening with me mentally then I cannot deliver to my clients successfully.
B + C: What's one piece of advice you would give to female entrepreneurs on the brink of starting?
Get out of your head. You have something to offer. You have what you need to succeed so go ahead and do it.
B + C: How do you stay motivated?
I stay motivated by listening to music and listening to motivational speakers, and sometimes someone will just reach out and talk about the impact that I made in their life. That adds the extra juice or sauce I need to pummel through the day.
B + C: What's your best organizational tip?
Keep a diary and journal. It's the best way for me to keep organized and it also provides a source motivation as I record not only my "losses" but my wins as well.
B + C: Who inspires you in the entrepreneurial space?
Shirley Toliver – She motivates and empowers and makes me always want to show up.
B + C: What has receiving the Office Depot scholarship to Selfmade done to help you start or grow your business?
The scholarship was a blessing in that all the areas that were covered offered valuable information that I needed, from social media to HR. As a new business owner, I needed to know this to increase my own personal awareness in what it takes to run a successful business. The candidness of the presenters made it easy to see myself in their shoes and helped me to realize that I can also get there.
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Head to Office Depot's Selfmade page to check out even more amazing business resources (and discounts!) to help you accomplish more on your entrepreneurial journey. These offers are available for a limited time only, so be sure to take advantage of all this goodness while supplies last. Want to join the next Selfmade cohort this summer? Check out all of the scholarship details right here.