You Graduated ... Now what?

So, here we are. One month into the “real world.” Sixteen years (at least) of school behind us. We’ve been waiting for this moment forever, haven’t we? When we wouldn’t have to spend Tuesday nights in Case or drive half an hour just to eat sushi. That moment when we’d know exactly what we want to do with our lives (didn’t you tell yourself you’d know that by the time you graduated college?). But now that we’re not at Colgate anymore and we won’t be going back anytime soon (15 weeks until Homecoming!), it’s hard not to miss the place. Maybe you’re sad or scared or indifferent about graduating, but whatever you’re feeling, we all can agree on one thing: we won’t get it back. “It” being having all your friends as neighbors; “free” access to a gym, health center, and food at all times; not needing to worry about anything but if you should ask for an extension on that paper and who to take to formal; choosing to end your Friday night with a slice or afterhours. So, we’ve realized all this already … we have to let go of our undergrad lives. It’s inevitable. Next year it will be the class of 2014 and the year after the class of 2015, and so on. No one gets more time (well, besides a lucky few). And that’s okay.

During the toast at my graduation dinner, my 30-year-old cousin (happily married and a soon-to-be father) said: “It’s all downhill from here. It stinks; get ready.” Obviously he was joking (or was he?), but it’s what everyone says. College is supposedly “the best time of your life,” but we can’t take that narrow-minded, pessimistic perspective. Yeah, you’re probably going to reminisce about that time you and your best friends got a flat tire on your 14 hour drive to Myrtle Beach during Senior Week (no names … ) instead of trying to throw a party in your first tiny apartment, but hey, lets believe we’re going to make great memories in our post-grad lives, too. Despite what some say, these new memories won’t necessarily be worse or mean less than our college ones ... they’ll just be different. And that’s okay. So, before you go off complaining about how you wish you were still in college because it’s soo much better, just remember that it's all relative. There were times when college was the last place you wanted to be (i.e. popping Adderall to pull all-nighters during exams) and there will be similar times in the real world (i.e. spending most of your salary to live in a 400 sq ft apartment in the city) ... at least you’re not living with your parents, right?

Luckily, even though we graduated, we don’t have to forget about Colgate. If you remember commencement at all, even the CEO of the NYSE told us to “keep Colgate close.” We should and inevitably, we will. First of all, if you don’t already brush with Colgate, you should. And, whether this is good or bad I’m not sure, but Sinatra’s “New York, New York” will probably never remind you of anything else but closing time at the Jug. All joking aside, Duncan Niederauer was right. Remember the Colgate memories and also realize what our school meant beyond the good times. Now that we’ve graduated, we can feel proud that we went to Colgate and appreciate that it gave us such a strong foundation to help us start our next chapters—ones that we can and should write as the best of our lives.

Here are a few "Dos and Don’ts" of your first summer as a post-grad:

  • Do travel. Take that $$$ you got for grad and go somewhere. Road trip XC w/ your friends or, if you want to save, take a day trip somewhere you’ve never been but have wanted to visit. This is the time.
  • Don’t listen to the Calvin Harris Pandora station … unless you want to be reminded that you won’t be going to another frat party again.
  • Do edit your resume. If you’re not hired yet, be sure to revise the address and education sections (fix gpa, put any honors, awards, etc.), as well as the dates of your experiences/activities. Keeping up the job search over the summer is tough, but if you get this part over with now, all you’ll have to work on is cover letters and interview prep. Don’t forget: Career Services can still help you out as an alum, so if you have any questions just email [email protected].
  • Don’t spend aka waste your time looking at freshman, sophomore, and junior year photo albums on Facebook. Just don’t.
  • Do revisit an old pastime. Remember when you had hobbies? Back when you didn’t have class, practice, club meetings, homework, a social schedule to keep up with, etc. Well, now you can do those things you used to do … if you haven’t started your “real” job yet.
  • Don’t procrastinate. Unfortunately, we’ve all probably acquired this weakness over the past few years. Break the habit now. Even if you don’t have many important things to do this summer, make lists of what you need/want to get done. No matter how trivial this may be, doing so will help you break the procrastination habit. Come September, your boss won’t be lenient like your professors were and you won’t be able to get extensions.

Good luck!!