Tuesday, November 16, 2010

What’s the ‘Real World’ Really Like for College Grads?

Post-graduation reality check

Throughout college, students are constantly being told to prepare for the “real world.” Learn this because you’ll use it in the “real world,” in the “real world” you’ll have to do this, in the “real world” you’ll have to do that, in the “real world” you’ll have bills, etc., etc. etc. … But what’s the “real world” really like for most recent grads?

For some lucky ones, you’ll move off to some fancy high-paying job with flexible hours and lots of vacation days, live in a brand new high-rise condo in the best part of town, meet lots of great and interesting people in a new city and continue to party like it’s 1999 at least three times a week like you did in college.

For the other 99.9 percent of us, life will be quite the opposite of this fantasyland …

The truth is that your first and biggest battle you’ll face after graduation is finding a job. In today’s economy it tends to take several months for recent grads to find a job. I was lucky enough to land this job about four and a half months after graduation but I still have friends who are on the hunt for a job in their field over a year past graduation. If you find yourself struggling to find a job I would offer this advice: don’t take it too personally or beat yourself up over it, it’s a bad economy and almost 10 percent of the country is out of work, so it’s probably not entirely your fault. Just be sure your resume and cover letters are personally tailored to each company you apply for and brush up on your interviewing skills.

The learning doesn’t stop because you’ve graduated, in fact, if you’re lucky enough to end up at the right job you’ll learn more in your first year of working than you learned in all four years of college. Always be eager to learn, it’ll help you in the long run and only make your job more interesting.

The monetary aspects of the “real world” can be both a nightmare and blast at the same time. On one hand you’ll be forced to make difficult decisions like what health insurance you’re going to dedicate a fourth of your pay check to and how much money you should put away each paycheck for retirement; neither of these questions is very sexy, but they’re important decisions recent grads are faced with in the “real world.” The beauty of having a steady job and paycheck is you have some leeway to spend your money at ease and rest assured that another paycheck is coming again soon. Unlike your college days, you can go out and rack up a $100 bar tab and still be able to eat the next week and afford to buy those great shoes you’ve been dreaming about without having to sell half of your life’s processions on e-bay!

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