I graduate from undergrad in a few weeks and I’m wondering if the transition to “real adulthood” (as my peers like to call it – although I think we’ve been adults for quite some time now) will be a smooth ride. I guess it’s normal to question what exactly I’m doing with my life now that I have to find a job and build a career. There is quite a lot of pressure because I don’t want to be stuck with something I won’t be happy doing. What I am looking to do is keep growing. As I reflect on my last four years at NYU and living in NYC, here are some tips for those who will soon venture off to college or those who are still in the early stages of their college experience.
- Gain experience in an area that you find enjoyable. You don’t have to know exactly what you want to do right when you get to college. I happen to attend a university full of overachievers. When I was a junior, I met freshmen at networking events who were holding internships. It’s crazy how there is this pressure in NYC to have a wide amount of experience early on. Within my major, Media, Culture, and Communication, if you haven’t had more than two internships, you’re “behind.” No one will say it to your face, but they’re thinking it. It doesn’t matter if it’s an internship, work on projects you enjoy whether it’s a blog, video, art. Working on something you are passionate about will only fuel your creativity and interest in it even more, which will help you once you get into the work force. I had one internship and a few part-time jobs and through my experiences, I was able to find out that I enjoy creating things and helping people. If I hadn’t had the chance to design some flyers and create amazing customer experiences in retail, I wouldn’t have realized how much I enjoy them.
- Find a part-time job. Attending college definitely means having a lot of schoolwork to do, but one of the most rewarding experiences I have discovered is delving into the work force and earning some money while balancing life and school. It tests your ability to juggle multiple responsibilities. It may get really difficult at times, but don’t worry, you won’t break. You’ll get stronger, and you get to meet amazing people. I learned so much from my former colleagues who are some of the most driven and talented people I have met. Plus, that work ethic translates well to your academics.
- Move away from home. Many of my friends from my hometown chose to stay relatively close to home. When I chose to move across the country, I didn’t think too much of it. I was way too excited about living in New York City. However, looking back on that decision, I realize how ballsy that was. Coming from a very sheltered home, not having my parents nearby was something I struggled to get adjusted to. Having no family on the east coast definitely made me feel even more lonely. I had to deal with nightmare roommates, move multiple times, work and go to school, and get through hard times (ailments, homesickness, drama, etc.) alone and without the support system I was used to. But the great thing about college is that it’s like a 4 year trial run at adulthood. Already attending college near home? Study abroad! You can try so many new things, go to all sorts of new places, and it’s okay to make mistakes along the way. That way, when you do become a “real adult,” you’ve already tackled so many of the adult issues and know ready to deal with them on your own.
- Build and foster genuine relationships. One issue with moving so far away from home is losing touch with the people I was close to before college. It’s really difficult to keep in touch with people when you don’t see them regularly. Out of sight, out of mind, right? However, the harder you work to try to maintain that relationship, the more you will be appreciated. And when you’re down, those people you worked hard to keep in touch with will be there for you. Lydia (one of my best friends) and I have been close since we were born but we attend college on opposite sides of the country. While it has been hard keeping in touch, just the effort of messaging once in a while, video chatting, and sending each other what we are working on keeps the person updated and feel like we’re still an important part of the other’s life. This doesn’t just apply to older relationships. More recently-formed relationships are important too. Rather than focusing on building a large network of contacts, figure out who motivates you to work hard and be a good person and who you can motivate. Focus on those who are considerate and show they care for you. These are the people who matter and are worth keeping in your life.