“Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” ~ Arthur Ashe

I don’t know a more practical piece of advice for graduates than Arthur Ashe’s quote. Graduating college is supposed to be among the most exciting times for a young person, but it’s often overshadowed by the pressures of life. Early twenties? No more, “Hi, how are you?” conversations with your mother. Those conversations have also graduated, at least for now.

  • “How’s your job hunt?”
  • “Did you pay your rent?”
  • “Why would you do that job if it doesn’t have benefits?”
  • “Why did you go out last night when you could be finding a job?”
  • “How are you going to pay your school loans?”

Sound familiar? Of course, it all comes from a place of love. Parents don’t nag for the sake of nagging (usually). They want to see you succeed and blossom into a self-sufficient adult. I have to imagine it gives a sense of pride, fulfillment and comfort knowing when a child has found his or her way. No, this isn’t a blog about crazy parents and the perils of being a young adult. This is, however, a blog that highlights the realities that graduates face after school and sprinkles in a dash of hope to help.

Post-Graduation Reality

I am lucky to have a handful of young adults in my life who are in that boat and feel comfortable talking to me, knowing that I too have been there. When we chat, I always tell them not to forget a few important things. Hopefully these four reminders will help you find hope if you’re facing a challenging post-graduation reality.

Just because you’re not where you want to be yet, doesn’t mean you won’t get there.

College degrees used to be differentiators but now, they’re minimum requirements for a lot of jobs. So naturally, jobs are more competitive to get, and career paths just aren’t linear like they used to be. Only about a third of young adults jump right into their careers after college. And supposedly, the difference lies in how they spent their undergrad years. So, if you’re not the Suzy Q, who completed four internships, was president of her sorority and won the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize, keep your goal in mind and keep traveling the path. There’s no shame in the long-term game.

You’ll submit 1,000 resumes before you get a call back.

I remember I used to celebrate when I got “declines” back from companies because that meant I made it through their initial screen; as opposed to literally getting nothing after the automated “thanks for applying with us!” message. Keep submitting, keep interviewing and keep smiling. Practice makes perfect, and it only takes one person to notice you and change your life.

When you do get a call back, it’ll probably be for a job you don’t see yourself making into a career.

All the time I hear about young people that close doors because it’s not what they think they want to do. Why close a door when you don’t know what’s behind it? Maybe there is something back there you want to do. I heard a story just this weekend about a woman who studied Occupational Therapy and took an odd job to brush up on office etiquette. She ended up becoming an insurance mogul and is now a gazillionaire with a stay at home husband and two beautiful children. And if you’re not that woman? Well, that’s fine too. Take a chance. In learning, there is no such thing as failure.

Graduate school isn’t a crutch to get a better job or a bigger paycheck.

Another one I hear people do a lot. Master’s studies are fantastic but also tend to be a long-term advantage when combined with experience. I’ll never forget the day I sat in a prospective client’s office and he told us about how the market was so saturated with educated people, that he could get graduate students to do bachelor level jobs for basically pennies. That’s a big investment to come out the other end with no practical work experience and a $20,000 salary.

This story doesn’t end once you land your first job out of school; it just changes. It’ll always be something. Simon Sinek says that the situations may be different or unique but the pressures aren’t. We all experience similar pressures but it’s up to us to manage them and use them to propel ourselves forward. For post grads, this is especially true. The future is yours to hold.

Wherever you are, with whatever you’ve got, you can. And you will. Go ahead.