For twelve years, sixteen if you add the four for college (let’s give you a year of grace period, because sometimes that dreaded major change forces us to hang around for the victory lap) education has been a crucial aspect of our lives. The routine of getting up for school, going to sports practice or some other extra-curricular activity and then home for dinner becomes an endless cycle. The same routine sets in during college. Wake up and go to class (or not your choice) study, cry, sleep (maybe)-repeat! So it’s no surprise that it’s a bit of a shock once you FINALLY graduate from college and you’re tossed into the adult world.
It’s not uncommon for our parents, or other adults, to complain about the millennial generation; not wanting to work hard, wanting the easy way out, we get it. I don’t fit the traditional millennial “type”. I’m more of an old soul and probably was brought up closer to my parent’s Generation X upbringing, treating others with respect, working for what I want, and giving my best to everything… even when it’s tough. But as a recent college graduate and member of the professional working world, I'm finding there are some parts about post-grad life that either college didn’t prepare me for, or there are areas that are difficult to navigate in the professional world. Whatever your opinions may be about the millennial generation, these are some concerns a few other recent graduates have shared about navigating the post-grad professional world:
"It amazes me how many companies have turned their "entry level" positions into unpaid internships. I can't pay my student loans off of an unpaid internship." -Paige, 24
"Most entry level positions now require 3-5 years experience in that specific field. Which is impossible for a newly graduated person!" -Kristina, 23
"People are just dumb sometimes, that surprised me. I feel like as the youngest person at my company by five years, I’m mentoring a lot of people because the older and more experienced generations don’t understand who they’re advertising to or how to connect with them (social media, etc.)." -Madison, 23
"As young adults, there is a pressure to graduate college and move out on your own to become this young professional. But, the entry-level jobs we’re able to apply for don’t provide the financial means for us to be these independent young adults. And therefore we end up back at home to save money before we can venture out on our own. It’s tough because sometimes I feel I’ve done something wrong because I’m back living with my parents after so many years away and can’t be that independent adult. On the flip side, I’m saving money and I know that’s the smart decision. It’s just a tough spectrum to be on because society has a lot of pressure for college graduates to get out of school and start being independent." -Kaitlin, 24
“I went to school for a degree that would help me get a certain job. Once I graduated there weren’t that many jobs available for the specific degree I had. In order to get a job I had to move from Michigan to Texas to land a job in my field. I left behind family and friends to move to a state where I knew no one.” -Roger, 24
“My biggest triumph in college was discovering who I am, what I value, and the passions that will shape my future. My biggest struggle post grad is figuring out how to let this newly discovered me take control. Moving back home has presented me with challenges I didn’t think I would face (old habits, old faces). It hasn’t been difficult to remain the person I am internally, but I have struggled to live out the life I know is best for me. I’m working to shine through all of the fog of the past back here in my hometown, but it seems dense. Every day I am working to find clarity, new paths, and equally as passionate friends, peers and mentors to help me pull through!” -Danielle, 23
There are some adjustments in the professional world that young adults might not be prepared for, such as the cost of living or how to take responsibility for their lives. But I think it’s valuable for ALL generations to understand what is expected of recent graduates, and where they may be coming from the next time you might write them off as complaining or being lazy.
When I first started college, a bachelor's degree was a degree that held some value among the professional world. Now companies want more education and experience for some of the more basic positions. Two to three years experience for something you might not necessarily need a degree for. A master's degree is now the new “normal” in order to get the higher positions. I understand that the higher pay there is, the more education and experience you need. But just graduating in May, I know my bachelor's degree will be of small value in a few years, and then it’s time to go for the master's. Again that constant cycle of feeling behind the wheel.
College does not prepare you for some aspects of adult life. Some examples include signing up for insurance on your own, as well as leasing a vehicle by yourself. This is where our loving parents come in handy to help guide us through these transitions, but I just ask you are patient with recent graduates, because the adult world has A LOT of little things to figure out…and most of us are doing the best we can.
For those recent graduates I offer some small advice from someone in your shoes; hang in there because you will figure it out! It will be difficult, that’s for sure. I’ll be honest and tell you that the professional world is a rude awakening sometimes from college life. You’ll find yourself tired, worn out, and you’re only starting your work life… but it’s okay. Show up to work and be the best person you can be! Treat others with respect, and ask questions! Call your parents when you aren’t sure about something (like what insurance options might be best for you.) Ask someone for help! You will not be successful unless you’re willing to learn from other people. We don't know everything, so be open to learning from someone with more experience.
If this is the first of the honest feedback about post graduate life you've heard, I apologize... but now at least you have a heads up, know what to expect, and know who you can learn from.
Wherever you’re at in the journey of life, you’re doing great!