The Most Common Post-Grad Freak-Outs (& How to Deal)

Freak-Out #4: I don’t know what kind of career I want

Psychological studies have shown that individuals without defined life paths report more happiness than those who feel as though they are stuck on a track. Career planning can be difficult because most people don’t know what will make them happy in one year, let alone 20! So before you throw up your hands in frustration, remember that. Just because your first job isn’t your dream job doesn’t mean that you will never find a job, or a career, that you love. The average American will have 7-10 jobs in their life

Blake recommends that post-grads work to define their passions as college ends. “Take time to brainstorm,” she suggests. “Create what I call a ‘passions mind map’ of everything under the sun that you love - different careers, hobbies, interests, people you admire, everything. Go big first instead of fixating on a specific career.”

As you identify the things you love, try job shadowing individuals who are in a field that you may find to be interesting. Two day job shadows are usually long enough to help you get a sense for whether or not you might like a job in that industry. If the shadow goes well, use those connections to schedule an internship or job interview. If not, keep on searching, and remember that you aren’t required to have one career for your whole life, nor are you required to have your entire life planned out at the age of twenty two!

Freak- Out #5: I am not going to be able to make enough money to support myself

For me, graduation signaled the start of financial independence from my parents. I will now be paying my own rent, handling my own bills and learning about investing and taxes. While some of you may have been faced with this jolt of independence earlier in life, I’m still reeling from it. And when you throw in student loans, big-city transportation costs and the high cost of rent, money can be one of the biggest post-grad stressors out there.

“The catch phrase here is that ignorance is not bliss!” says Blake. “Everyone starts somewhere, but you need to be aware of where your money is going and you need to be clear with your goals. For me, money is a creative challenge. I think ‘How can I earn $3,000 a month?’ and it may come from one place or lots of different places, but I am usually able to piece together jobs to make it work.”

It is also important to make a budget for yourself before the year starts in order to make sure that you don’t spend more money than you make. Websites like mint.com can help you manage your money easily, and will even send you weekly updates about your expenditures. As a post-grad—a real-life functioning adult!—it is important to know the status of your bank account at all points in time. As long as you are keeping track of the money you spend, you won’t need to worry about going over your budget. You can also peruse sites like Learnvest to get a better idea of how investments work and other financial advice.

A college graduation is called a ‘commencement’ because it is the beginning of something new, not the end. So although graduation comes with a mixed bag of emotions and freak-outs, try to take a deep breath, look at the big picture and take it one day at a time—good, new things are ahead of you!

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Jenni is a senior at Bucknell University where she will soon graduate with a degree in Psychology and minors in Creative Writing and Italian. Although Bucknell is in Lewisburg, PA (hello, corn fields!), her home is actually all the way in Seattle, WA. While at school, she enjoys hanging out with her sorority sisters, tutoring in the Writing Center, running and cooking/ eating delicious food. After spending a semester abroad in Florence, Italy during her junior year, she is itching to continue traveling and loves anything associated with food, cooking, health and writing. She is currently finishing up her time as an Editorial Intern for Her Campus and will be headed to Boston University in the fall to begin working on a Masters degree in Journalism.

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