As children head back to school, I am feeling slightly envious of those days filled with new school supplies, teachers, homework and all that accompanies a new year. This month marks the first time in my life that I will not be skipping back to school, backpack in hand.
I have finally completed my schooling. I never thought the time would come as I was pulling all-nighters, writing 20-page papers and ultimately achieving the thing I worked for my whole life: a college degree. However, the only word to describe the way I am feeling about it is bittersweet.
Immediately following my graduation from the University of Oklahoma in May, I realized just how much I had to figure out in a relatively short amount of time. All of the sudden, there I was smack dab in middle of the real world, and I had little to no clue how to navigate this new place. According to Rhonda Harryman, certified life coach, I am not the only college graduate who is feeling this way.
At her private practice, Grace Life Coaching of Edmond, Harryman works with several clients my age who are unprepared for everything the real world entails — the job hunt, becoming independent, paying bills and every other little detail, she said. In her words, students are in for several reality checks once they toss their caps on graduation day.
Harryman offers the following tips to help all parties involved make this time a little less intimidating:
Unemployed college graduates need to be actively and creatively searching for a job. Graduates should treat job hunting like an 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. job to become adjusted to the real-world schedule.
Side note: Graduates shouldn't fully rely on the Internet. Harryman calls this “passive job hunting.” Leaving the comfort of the couch and reaching out to people in the community is a preferable method as networking is critical for finding a job today.
Parents tend to be more lenient than they should be when their grown children move back home following college. Harryman recommends parents set a date for when their children should obtain a job.
“In this economy, it might take six months, and after that you are going to take whatever there is available; whoever has the sign out that says we're hiring,” she said.
Graduates will be most successful if they present themselves as professional adults when on the job hunt and when in the workplace. Professionalism in college is not as expected, but if graduates aren't professional in how they dress, work and communicate on the job, they can get fired.
College graduates need to improve their time management skills.
“Time management can make or break whether your relationship with your employer is a good one,” Harryman said. “If time management is a problem in college, you can get a bad grade; if time management is a huge problem in a job, you get fired.”
Living away from home is new for many college graduates. Many are unsure about all the costs that go into being independent: rent, utilities, insurance, food, entertainment and incidentals — the list goes on and on. Parents should encourage graduates to create mock budgets to grasp exactly what main expenses their income will go toward.
Side note: Organization skills are key when keeping track of financial information, job applications and any other important paperwork. The less cluttered the environment is, the less cluttered life will seem.
The transition from college to the real world is an extremely crucial time of one's life, and college graduates could use all the help they can get. Harryman's tips are basic yet vital in making the transition successful, and I know they will come in handy as I continue on my post-college journey.