Three Things I Learned My Last Week of College

Well, ladies and gents! The time has come. You finished your last day of classes, and the only thing that stands between you and that 6-figure priced piece of paper is a week of hell, I mean finals.

After I passed in my last exam, I sat on the 4th floor of the Suffolk University Library staring out the window looking over the dusk of the Boston skyline… crying. Not sad tears. Not necessarily happy tears. Just pure emotional tears. In five days, I completed three final exams, three final papers, two group presentations and a psychology symposium. My planner looked like a color-coded hieroglyphic mess.

It had been a roller-coaster of a journey to get there, and words cannot describe the feeling when I realized, I HAVE DONE IT.

Mission Complete

Well… kind of. Because, just like that, it felt as though I had been thrown into a Mission Impossible episode as the next Mr. Phelps.

MI

Your mission, should you choose to accept it… is to secure a job.

I almost wish I was joking when I say that I had been begun preparing myself as much as possible for the dreaded post-grad job hunt August of my Junior year. This included researching job roles and companies and reaching out for informational interviews through my stealthy, yet slightly creepy social media stalking skills. Though I kept from glancing towards the light at the end of the tunnel until last minute. I knew I wouldn’t feel like I was actually done until I walked across that stage in my super stylish pillowcase robe and dweeby hat. 

Needless to say, I was STRESSED my last semester of undergrad. There was a ten-day stretch where I went on two informational interviews, had three phone interviews and four in-person interviews. On top of the running around, I spent hours upon hours trying to organize the thoughts racing through my mind…

“Did I choose the right degree?!”

“Do I want to work for-profit or non-profit …”

“Should I go to grad school right away??”

“Am I even going to find a job?!??!!!!!?”

I’m here to tell you that the feelings you have are valid. The nervousness is expected and the uncertainty is normal. Here are three major things I’ve realized as my undergraduate career began to wind down. Three things that I wish someone had told me to help ease some anxiety. 

It’s going to be emotional. Though it may not seem it as you’re in the moment .. you are about to embark on one of the most notable triumphs of your life. 17(ish) years of education lead to this one moment. Think back to your first day of freshman year of college, the rush of emotion as you walked onto campus for the first time. The excitement, the fear, the adrenaline of the unknown. Over the past four years, you have met some extraordinary people, did some incredible things and reached what used to be unfathomable goals. Sure, you’ve probably had some screw-ups along the way, but every mistake is a lesson learned.

It’s going to be frustrating. Aside from dealing with every single person imaginable asking you the same questions – “Where are you applying?” “Have you gotten a job?” “How much are you going to make out of college?” … You are going to see your friends get jobs left and right while you can’t even manage to get a response to your resume. Do not get discouraged. I repeat, DO. NOT. GET. DISCOURAGED.

Using my personal experience, I applied to over thirty companies in my last month of college. Yes, OVER 30. At first, I was getting either rejection letters or just no responses at all. I began panicking. Not your “nervous giggle and have a glass of wine” kind of panic .. I mean like, “full-fledged girl-gone-mad, googling ‘how much can I make selling a kidney?’ or ‘how to get a refund on your entire college education?’ and drinking half a bottle of Hendricks while watching Parks and Rec for the fourth time through” kind of panic.

Then all of a sudden, I began getting phone calls and emails from companies I had applied to asking to chat more about my background and offering to bring me in for interviews. I was so, so fortunate to have a job offer in hand two weeks prior to walking the stage to receive my diploma. Trust me, your time will come. But this brings me to my next point…

You have to stay focused. It’s going to be so easy to fall into the celebratory trap of post-graduation bliss. Almost every day I was getting texts from friends asking me to go out, but I had to remember that just because classes were over did not mean that I was done. I had interviews to schedule, thank-you notes to write and a career to start.

Interview prep is crucial to keeping nerves under wraps and assuring the interview will go well. This means everything from researching the company to understand their mission and culture, looking up the interviewers on LinkedIn to get a better idea of what they are all about and taking the time to look up sample interview questions for the position you are applying for. There is nothing worse than freezing up in an interview, so be comfortable with your resume, your personal value pitch and have a good grasp of the role and company before stepping foot into the building.

I guess the bottom line is, you can do it. And though it may seem overwhelming … it doesn’t have to be. Take a step back and organize your thoughts, days and schedule. It’s okay not to have all of your sh*t together and don’t be afraid to admit that you don’t. Reach out to friends and family for support and guidance. After all, everyone is rooting for you to succeed.

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