What I Learned in My Last Week of College

Well ladies and gents! The time has come. Just last week I finished my last day of classes and the only thing that stood between me and that 6-figure priced piece of paper was a week of hell, I mean finals. *Insert pre-recorded clapping here*

Mission Complete.

And just like that it’s like I was thrown into a Mission Impossible episode as the next Mr. Phelps.

MI

Your mission, should you choose to accept it … is to begin job searching.

Well, here we go.

I almost wish I was joking when I said that I have been doing research and prepping for my post-graduation job search since August. Though, I have kept from glancing towards the light at the end of the tunnel until last minute (in fact, I still have my blinders on because I won’t feel like I’m actually done until I’m walking across that stage in my super stylish get-up of a pillowcase robe and dweeby hat). I have been trying to prepare myself as much as possible for the dreaded job hunt. This included researching job roles and companies, reaching out for informational interviews through my stealthy, yet slightly creepy social media stalking skills and hours upon hours of mind racing thoughts …

“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?!??!!!!!?”

Fast forward one week. Here I am, just finished my LAST FINAL OF MY UNDERGRADUATE CAREER. In fact, I’m currently sitting 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. It has been a roller-coaster of a journey to get where I am today and I words cannot describe the feeling you get when you’ve realized, I HAVE DONE IT.

In just 10 days, I have been on 2 informational interviews, had 3 phone interviews and 4 in person interviews. I have completed 3 final exams, 3 final papers, 2 group presentations and a psychology symposium. My planner looks like a color coded hieroglyphic mess.

Here are three things I’ve realized over the past few weeks as my undergraduate career began to wind down:

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 important 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 unforgettable 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 the past month. 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 white girl gone mad googling how much I can make selling a kidney and how to get a refund on your entire college education because you’re clearly not going to ever go anywhere in life because you’re doomed to be a failure and realized you drank an entire bottle of Hendricks straight 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 to bring me in for interviews. 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 everyday I was getting texts from friends asking me to go out and 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 better 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 to not have your shit 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.

Congratulations Class of 2017 – One more accomplishment we have all achieved.

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