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Tips for Graduates

1. Make a plan

  • Map out the first six months following graduation. Try to do this before graduation if possible. Whether you take a vacation, start an internship, consider graduate school or accept a summer job, having a plan of action can help to organize your thoughts and reduce the impact of Post Commencement Stress Disorder, or PCSD.
  • Explore options of full or part-time jobs or alternatives such as Americorps.  Scholarships are available for community service. Let your mind get curious about possibilities and follow up with getting information.
  • Create structure. Most people thrive with a little bit of structure, and most colleges and graduate programs are great at infusing student life with lots and lots of structure, options and purpose. One of your biggest jobs after graduation is to discover or create new structure in your life—for leisure, work and home life, too. Making a task list can help you move forward.
  • Find a friend or mentor who is a few years older or a couple of steps ahead to help you stay on track and keep perspective.

2. Keep things in perspective

  • Know that you are not the only recent graduate to experience stress of the unknown. Consider regarding your “anxiety” as “excitement” and needed energy to propel you into the tasks of finding employment.
  • Don’t use your stress as an excuse to spend beyond your means. Make a budget and stick to it to avoid adding credit card debt to the list of things making you anxious. This will also give you a target for a workable salary.
  • Be realistic about landing your dream job. Working in a position related to that dream might be the best route to the job you really want. A study from Rutgers University found that almost four in 10 college graduates surveyed earned a lot less than expected. Roughly 25 to 30 percent worked below their education or outside of their interest area. Remember that work experience will serve as a resume builder to help build your future.
  • Stay physically active and maintain or establish regular eating and sleeping patterns.
  • Be gentle with yourself. Notice any harsh, self-bashing thoughts you might be having.
  • Take a breath and let go of the criticism. Stop expecting yourself to get a job right out of college (like your parents did) in today’s competitive market. Practicing compassion and non-judgment of your efforts will calm you and increase your effectiveness in making decisions.

3. Face the Future
– Achieving a goal means having to find a new one.

  • Create a mental picture of where you are today and where you hope to be by the end of the summer. Then “fast forward” to the end of the year, seeing where you would like to be.
  • Write out keywords or images about your goal. Being clear about your goal can help you recognize “dead ends.”
  • Take action daily. Do something every day toward your goal of getting the job you want. Little steps like phone calls, emails, using Facebook or Linked In to build your networks or attending a networking event helps your friends and associates know what you are looking for.
  • Translate your academic skills such as critical thinking, problem-solving, presentation, writing and teamwork skills to expand your career options.
  • Create a timeline. If you moved in with your parents, consider creating a contract for a tentative move-out date and work to make it happen.

4. Enjoy your life now.

It can be hard to relax, especially for goal oriented go-getters if things don’t come together right away. Find something fun each day as you’re waiting for application results to come back.

Author: Jane Riffe, retired WVU Extension Specialist – Family and Human Development
Reviewed by: Eric Murphy, former WVU Extension Service Families & Health Extension Agent, Monongalia County