* Welcome to Post-Grad Diaries: a new series diving into life after college from those who know it best. College grads. I’ll be interviewing various college graduates from all different backgrounds on all things post-grad from post-grad depression to job hunting & more. This is for any current students or recent graduates looking to gain more insight on the reality of the transition to adulthood.*
Grad Year: 2019
Occupation: College Minister, Stylist, Social Media Manager & Freelancer
Location: Atlanta, GA
How soon did it take you to find a job post-grad, and what advice do you have for students in the application process?
IA: Four months after graduation, I got my first job which was in film. It was cool because that’s what I came to Atlanta to do, but quickly after that, I knew that’s not where I wanted to be. Soon after, COVID-19 kind of took over so I had to re-evaluate my life and what I was passionate about. I feel like Hampton kind of puts you in this box regarding post-grad, that you have to do everything you said you wanted to do when you got there freshman year, and that’s not true. The loneliness of quarantine helped me figure out that God was telling me that I was passionate about youth, clothes, and creative direction which is how I got into what I do now.
My advice is to not get too overwhelmed and know that getting a job is not an instant thing. School tries to make it seem like as soon as graduation is over, you have to jump in and you don’t. If the thought of that overwhelms you or makes you feel like you’re not capable enough, take your time.
What advice do you have for students or recent grads who still don’t have it figured out yet?
IA: One, always stay true to yourself. I feel like that takes you so far when you are constantly figuring out who you are, and what you like. It’s always easier for you to play on that the rest of your life, whether it’s career-wise, spiritual, or relationships. Two, always be a learner. Constantly want to be inspired and learn something new. Those are the little things that continuously push me to my end career of being in film or entertainment, or whatever I want to do.
That sounds very cliche but it’s so real because when you get into the real world, you see these older people who have been in the industry for a long time, are losing themselves. They are in these routines and are kind of robotic because they forget to pull out their creative side and put it into their work.
When you were getting ready to graduate and looking for jobs, did you know where you wanted to relocate to?
IA: Yes. After leaving Hampton, I knew I wanted to be in Atlanta, whether it’s for film or just the Atlanta culture. I’m a city person, and Hampton was enough of a small town for me being from Atlanta. I knew because of what my interest were, even if I wanted to get out of film, that Atlanta was the city for me.
Did you have student debt coming out of college? If so, how did you manage your money and income?
IA: Yes. I’m a first-generation college student, so my mom was like whatever it takes, we’re taking it out the loans it doesn’t matter. Some of my friend’s parents had their back when it came to money and they were ready to graduate debt-free. Shoutout to them but I didn’t have it like that. Once I got that first letter from Sallie Mae, I was like “how much do I owe?”. It was a shock. I think that added to the intenseness of getting a job so I could start paying it off. But the reality is, it’s not going away either way. Like you just have to deal with it.
With my job, I set up my paycheck to where a certain percentage of my check goes away, so I don’t even know about it. That makes me feel better, but I think you also have to prioritize. I stayed with my parents post-grad so I didn’t have to pay rent. I also started choosing experience over things. Like if my friend was having a birthday in Vegas, I’m gonna choose to do that instead of going out every weekend in Atlanta. I created a budget for myself.
Did you ever experience post-grad depression? If so, can you describe what that felt like for you?
IA: Yes and no. Immediately after graduation, I was happy to be free and do what I wanted. I feel like it hit me in quarantine because I was forced to be alone with my thoughts and had to re-evaluate my life. It felt like all the lies that the world was feeding me, I was accepting. It just felt like loneliness and like I was a big disappointment. I was telling myself that I couldn’t do things before I even applied myself.
What advice would you give to recent graduates about how to deal with post-grad depression?
IA: I would say pray because it kept me grounded. Praying and meditation. Like taking time out of your day to give all your negative thoughts to somebody else. Also, focus on your strengths. During quarantine, if Adobe had a free class, I was taking it. I think that goes back to always being a learner. So when that time did come to get a job, I felt more confident in what I was doing. When you are in an interview for a job, they want to know what your skills are and what you bring to the table. So when you work on those different things that you can bring, it makes you a bit more competitive out in the real world.
From your perspective, what are the perks of being out of college?
IA: Freedom. (laughs) Hampton was a private school so they kept us sheltered. Another perk is the ability to go see your friends wherever they are. I don’t have to worry about being at school on Monday, etc. You can take off from work on certain days, and I think that’s cool. I have some really cool friends not to brag. They work for the NBA and some really cool marketing companies. Sometimes they’ll be like can you come to this event in Atlanta or Chicago? And I’ll be yeah. So it’s cool being connected to different people in different places.
What is the most valuable lesson college taught you that stuck with you after graduation?
IA: One of the first things one of my professor’s freshman year ever told me was that the world wants you to be a rapper, trapper, or athlete, and you have the choice to be one of the three or something greater. I was like you’re so right, and that stuck with me because he was giving us the reality of how the world perceives you as a Black person. What are you going to do about that? Are you going to end up doing the same thing or will you be something greater?
Another thing I learned was to network across from you and not just up. Use your classmates and professors as a way to build your connections. Then when you get up, you bring them up with you. Being in Scripps with so many creative people in every aspect has taught me that who I needed to be connected with is right next to me, or a DM away.
Follow India on Instagram @indieuhh