How to Navigate the Shift From College Student to Real-World Professional, According to Career Experts
My last semester of college, I felt exceptionally happy—but also anxious and lost. The mix of emotions could have been the result of a serious lack of sleep, or the realization that soon I'd no longer be living two minutes from my closest friends. My diagnosed anxiety disorder, which my therapist told me would be heightened during times of change, probably made an appearance, too. Looking back, though, I chalk it up to fear of what I didn't know, and what they don't tell you about transitioning from college student to real-world adult.
When you land in the "real world," there's no travel guide waiting for you with a sign, telling you exactly where to go. After packing up your comforter, textbooks, and Polaroids, you typically head back to your hometown with the imminent question, what now? Some of your friends may have found a job at this point, or begun moving to a new city with their big dreams in tow. You may not know it based on their Instagram stories, but they're facing the same reality as you. The same imminent what now?
Even if you follow a distinct path post-college, you'll find this question popping up from time to time. As career expert Sarina Virk Torrendell, founder of withSarina Career Coaching and the voice behind the Career Memos withSarina podcast, puts it, "Every day is a mystery." Like starting anything new, it's best to jump in, put one foot in front of the other, and learn as you go.
Having a guide in your back pocket does wonders as well. As Monica Geller from Friends says, "Welcome to the real world!" It can be overwhelming at times, but these tips and reminders will help you navigate the big changes up ahead—and maybe even learn to love them.