It’s graduation time again in the West. A time where students celebrate the milestone of completing their studies in elaborate ceremonies that are littered with family members and supporters. As I watched my friends receive their degrees through LIVE streaming, I began to cry for joy in my living room. I am proud of their success and dually excited about their futures. My mind drifted to that moment when I received my BA in English. I felt accomplished and invincible – to date, there hasn’t been a moment that can compare to the moment and emotions I felt when I graduated.
But after the graduation celebration ends…what’s next?
When the cap and gown are taken off…what’s next?
What’s the reality of life after graduation?
The reality is simple: Life moves on and you must put to work the vision that you have for your life.
Life doesn’t stop or pause when we meet a target achievement, it continues and between the periods of job hunting, adapting to new work environments and personalities, dealing with the stresses of making your budget work for you, managing a job while pursuing your dreams, one can simply become overwhelmed with the necessary changes that are taking place within his immediate environment.
This post addresses three seasons that graduates face:
The “Waiting” Season:
After graduation, many persons already have a job lined up for them, whether through internship, network connections or luck. Most individuals, however, have to write hundreds of cover letters and send them to organizations – local, regional and international – to land a job. Most times, many organizations do not send any responses, leaving the recent graduate anxious and in limbo. When I graduated, I was home for four months waiting for responses from organizations that I applied to. After months of waiting, I did not receive any response. I reached out to a local organization and began to volunteer in the Communication department. It was a different path from my journalistic dream but it kept me occupied. That company soon hired me to work on their Public relations team. It was a new field, with new challenges and it expanded my mind and capabilities. Now, I’m still with the organization, leading campaigns and projects as the youngest public relations professional who ever worked at the organization. I know of a friend who started a business during his “waiting” period and now that along with his job pay the bills. Uncertainty during the waiting season is natural however creativity and a new layer of determination is often enhanced and developed during the period.
The “Disappointment” Season:
Our first jobs are usually far from the realities we envisioned ourselves having.The excitement of our first day wears off and we find our expectations of work and immediate success after University, crushed with disappointment. Let us face it, reality is not always in tangent with our desires and expectations. After weeks of moving through the recruitment process, a friend of mine was deeply disappointed with her job when she discovered office politics and the dirt of corporate life in her first quarter of working with an organization. She cried every night. She felt stuck and unmotivated. She didn’t see life beyond her disappointment season. Feeling disappointed is natural but it is not where life crumbles or ends for you. Sometimes the disappointment season is necessary to shift our perceptions of our reality . This shift helps us to use tools that are effective to move to more realistic planes in our careers.
The “Adapting” Season:
Two things happen during this season of adapting: you find enough courage to stomach your reality and make it work for you or you become so overwhelmed with disappointment that you give up and allow it to steal from you every valuable gift within you. When I first realized that the world of work was not a bed of roses, I sat down and assessed the situation and put mini-plans in place to helped me adapt and adjust to my new demands and reality. I know of friends who crumbled during the disappointment season and quit or remained at the job until they became so full off bitterness that they had to leave for the sake of their health. It’s a choice every graduate has to make when faced with an overwhelming, disappointing reality: Will this season define my life or will I squeeze a lesson out of it and become a better person. In order for us to move through this season we must be open to new methods of completing and accomplishing things, and we must be willing to face our fears and emotions to maneuver our way through the adapting process.
The interesting fact about these realities that graduates face is that whether we are completing our post grad studies, balancing a new relationship, making a mark with a new endeavor, we all go through these different seasons.
Share with me the experiences you faced during the seasons outlined in this post.