Haphazard Advice for Soon-to-Be Recent Graduates.

Now generally, I write instructional posts about topics that I feel that I’ve mastered resume tips), that I feel that I’m warranted to talk about (cover letter writing). But this one is a little bit different. It’s a bit raw. Let’s imagine it’s like I’m teaching you how to cook something that I’ve never-ever cooked before — live! Tune in now and you’ll learn along with me. My mom will always chastise me for taking a chance and trying out new recipes when cooking for parties. Not to sound full of myself, but really, every time I do this, it turns out amazing. So let’s get cooking.

Tomorrow marks my one year anniversary of graduating into grown-up life and honestly, I’m still figuring it out. I’m right there with ya, kid.

“I’m a new soul, I came to this new world hoping to learn a bit ’bout how to give and take. But since I came here, felt the joy and the fear, finding myself making every possible mistake. See I’m a young soul in this very strange world, hoping I could learn a bit ’bout what is true and fake. But why all this hate? Try to communicate. Finding trust and love is not always easy to make.”

From the nomadic lyrics to the lighthearted sound, this song pretty much sums it up, so let’s break it down. (Press ‘play’ now for full effect).

Hoping to Learn a Bit ‘Bout How to Give and Take
[Give] If you’re anything like me, you spent your college career not only trying to do relatively well in your classes, but also to gain lots and lots of experience in pursuit of exciting job opportunities post-graduation. I have a very pretty resume, if I do say so myself. Not only is it a formatting masterpiece, it lists my accomplishments both locally and even around the world. I used to have a very impressive gmail signature and was pretty darn smug about it, joking that “I pretty much ran the community service scene at my university.” All my fellow students and staff mentors would give me many a pat on the back and word of affirmation. I rocked college and I’m proud of it.

But when you leave that stadium of fans and change out of your cap & gown, you’re really just another person, another employee, another contact. You suck. Just kidding.

But really, outside of your bubble, simply telling stories about your accomplishments will never portray their actually worth. Know that your past experience gets you the job, but your work performance is what determines the level of respect you earn. Focus on doing your best and creating new accomplishments — dwelling on your past ones will get you nowhere. 

[Take] Now out of habit, I joined quite a few organizations outside of my day job. I’m really happy that I did — I’ve met a lot great, like-minded people and have cultivated my skills in a more professional setting. It took some time, but I had to (re)learn that I have my limits and reassess my commitments. Taking a step back, I realized something quite simple — some commitments will help me, and some will not. Always take a moment to assess yourself, ensuring that you choose activities that are in line with your priorities, both current and future

Finding Myself Making Every Possible Mistake
[Mistake 1] Sleeping through a college lecture is okay. You can always borrow notes from your friends, and your professor may even offer recordings. In the workplace, there is no catching up for missed time and you won’t get paid for it. You can’t even slip into the room late and go unnoticed. If you’re not a morning person yet, learn to be. I’m happy to say that on any given morning before 10AM, I am now much more alert than my friends that are still in college. But really, it’s something I’m working on that I wish I had started earlier. 

[Mistake 2] You may have heard that we are part of Generation Y – a generation brought up with the latest technology and an unprecedented level of encouragement to “follow our dreams.” We’re impatient and have high expectations. Blah, blah, blah. Whether it’s true or not, at our age and experience level, no one’s really taking us seriously. For me, I have the wonderful added trait of looking like a 14-year-old, so I am often mistaken as a student volunteer or intern. I feel that I have to work extra hard to assert myself, so I’ve learned a trick or two. Upon introducing yourself to others, 
always work in some message that you’re a real grown-up. Sometimes I will literally say “Yes, I’m a grown-up,” but sometimes it takes some smooth subtleties like finding a way to incorporate your position title into the conversation.
(Slightly related, NEVER express in ANY way that you “feel old now.” Your  older colleagues will not take to that very well…)

Hoping I Could Learn a Bit ‘Bout What is True and Fake
One surprising contrast that I’ve observed from college to the career world is that professionals are much more accepting of your personal values and beliefs. If you were part of a student organization, you’ve probably spent many hours on Facebook or at your campus center promoting something or other, always coming up with a powerful retort for any naysayers. It’s been refreshing to be able to simply tell others what I stand for without having to defend myself or convince others otherwise. People tend to keep to themselves and you should treat others the same, never pushing your beliefs onto others unless asked.
 You don’t need to be radical or extreme to take a stand. 

In fact, I’ve started becoming more involved in my church since I graduated college, and it’s been great! I’ve been reminded of really great verses from the Bible, like this one:

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.” – Philippians 4:8

I’m learning more things every day, about my faith, about social justice, about myself. Woohoo!

Finding Love and Trust is Not Always Easy to Make
And last but not least, let’s talk about relationships. I’d give this same advice to a student, but it’s so much more crucial now – relationships, whether platonic or romantic, are partnerships; both parties should always be on the same page with expectations and commitment. Any inconsistencies lead to disappointments, frustrations, and, often times, endings. Just like the song says, “try to communicate.” This simply piece of advice can help your relationships thrive during this dynamic period you’re living in.
Also, choose to dedicate yourself to those will add value to your life. Suddenly your world is much, much bigger than your college campus and it can be daunting to navigate. We can never know every single person on this planet — the person you have the best chance of knowing fully is you! So, look into yourself and learn about your values, passions, and needs. Follow them and you’ll find people that you can love and trust.

I do hope you found this palatable. The last year has had its ups and downs, but I’m thankful for every moment. Congrats to the class of 2012! You did it! Now do it even better as you move forward.

With love,
Tiffany R.
Dining at Tiffany’s

PS: If you don’t feel like listening to me, listen to God:

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11

PPS: If this post made you feel nervous, here is my sister’s dog. Sasha says, “Everything will be okay. Woof!”