Everything is surreal during college. And somehow, despite the fact that there can be terror professors, a huge pile of requirements, crazy bills to pay and a nose-deep flood of responsibilities, it is still somehow a comfortable and fun life.

First, you must know that after college it isn’t just the world watching you, you’ll be seeing yourself in a detached way somehow until reality sets in. Another reality is, there will be those sets of people who await you to fail, they are vultures who feed on human happiness and suck the drive out of you. But never fail; it’s one way to combat these vultures.

I’ve been out of college for years. I may not have gathered all the wisdom of the world but I’ve learned some life lessons the hard way, which helped shaped these thoughts. So here we go.

Finding jobs is a grueling process.

find jobsphoto: Flazingo via flickr

Not just because jobs are sparse but because you yourself are still fighting with reality.

There are those who are lucky and get offered a job right after college, and there are also those who are not so lucky. For the latter, the path will not be paved. Remember, if you graduate today, even with honors or some distinction, then so are a thousand others. What will define you will be your perseverance.

Send out resumes and get into interviews. Back then, I sent out more than ten resumes to different companies even out of my line until I landed my first job. And during this handing out process, you will always meet haughty people who will look down on fresh graduates like they’re incapable. Smile, they have the problem, you don’t.

There’s no room for being choosy.

man pointingphoto: ardenswayoflife via flickr

In reality, employers will always look for experience. And it’s one thing a college graduate doesn’t have. Once you are offered a reasonable job, take it. Take note of the word reasonable. Acceptable pay and acceptable workload.

You can’t get right to CEO position after college. You have to work for it, for years even. Unless you’re with the likes of Mark Zuckerberg who skipped graduating from college for Facebook. But he can be an inspiration too; you can get on with your current job but work on your start up.

You’ll start low.

handshakephoto: Flazingo via flickr

As said, you can be given an acceptable job and acceptable pay. But let me tell you first a story of what is an acceptable “low”.

Before graduation, we were already hunting for jobs and I passed on this announcement from a small private company in need of writers. My co-pub staffer went to it after graduation and got accepted right there and then and started that same day. The job description was making a glossy English text book for non-English speakers. The catch is, we will be working under probation for three months, nine hours a day, free lunch but with very low pay, $70 dollars a month (this is against any labor law, it’s not even at par with minimum pay regulations and he’s going to enslave me in my own country? No thanks.) So after three hours of orientation, we skipped the free lunch and never came back. You can insert the curses here we muttered for that three hours we lost of our lives.

That was the unacceptable low. You may be a fresh graduate, you need not to be choosy but there are companies and people who will turn you into prey. Maintain some pride, but don’t be too proud.

Your degree and your personality are your best assets as of the moment.

studentphoto: Nickolai Kashirin via flickr

You may not have the experience but you have your degree. That’s what will make you unique when you pair it with a persevering personality. Dress well and carry yourself well. Venture into your related industries but be never afraid to apply outside your comfort zone.

Vultures are everywhere.

angryphoto: Ryan Hyde via flickr

My three-hour boss was the first vulture I know. And after that, I realized the world can never be free of them, so laugh about it. You can never change them but you can be careful not to turn into these people someday.

These vultures may come in the form of your officemates who will pounce at you. They can be your boss. That haughty customer. Or that demanding client.

Patience is the key. These experiences with these people will be your springboard to success someday. A sheltered experience in a very ideal job isn’t ideal at all. Remember a knife needs a rough surface to sharpen.

You need to drop the once-cool-frown you sport.

frownphoto: Steven Depolo via flickr

Well, back in high school and even college, that forever frown “may” look cool. After college and in workplace, you just can’t go on like that. Whether that frown is for the surface, it will still affect your ideals and later on you will realize it becomes a lifestyle.

Drop the frown, maintain the smile and be happy with what opportunities you have.

When you get a job, immerse your heart in it.

love my jobphoto: Nick Gaffney via flickr

You can’t do a job effectively if your heart isn’t in it. Even though it will not be your job forever, you need to realize that not loving what you do will make all your work hard and heavy.

You may loathe your boss or that nosy lady in the next cubicle but at least try to like what’s in front of you. Put your heart into that note you are typing, even though it’s just the usual encoding job or smile while you’re filing those files.

Flexibility is needed for success

successphoto: Flazingo via flickr

Your workplace is a community. Try to understand them. Be reasonable but never condescending. Learn to be with people. Remember that workplaces draw an entirely different environment from a classroom. College classrooms can be a haven of various personalities. But workplace is a haven of different personalities with a far heavier life load, different age gaps and different mindsets.

Learn to blend in but never lose yourself in the process.

Don’t be easily offended.

womanphoto: Kelly Finamore via Flckr

You are starting anew. There will be constructive criticism along the way. And even if it is hurtful and unnecessary criticism, you should learn not to get easily offended. Take it and learn from it. And if it’s too unnecessary and too spiteful to be constructive, make a witty retort but never be spiteful yourself. Defend wisely but don’t attack.

Your first job isn’t your last.

suitphoto: Flazingo via flickr

Don’t get too cozy yet. Usually your first job is your springboard. It is where you get to make mistakes and learn from them. Learn to explore better possibilities later and find your real niche.

A reward after a month’s work is needed.

spaphoto: yourlocalconnections via flickr

You can’t work all year long without some compensation. Save for a monthly reward. Be it a pair of shoes, a new phone or a painting you want; give it to yourself. A reward-less venture will tax you and will make you feel uncompensated.

But of course this should come after you have paid out your monthly dues. Meaning you have to make your salary last for a month and avoid unnecessary expenses like that discounted gadget online. Just because you save something from the deal doesn’t mean you need to buy it.

Saving for travels is vital.

planephoto: Kevin Chang via flickr

Starting jobs may not yield that airfare yet. But after you get settled and you get the feel of full time job or even after transferring to a financially rewarding job, you really need to save for travels. Travel is what makes people complete. Not that cross-country travel; go for an overseas vacation.

Not only is travel to a strange place exciting, it’s fulfilling too. Meeting new people, seeing new places and leaving behind your work desk is simply amazing. And take a day off from travel guides, take a map and explore.

Keeping bills paid on time will keep you sane.

card billphoto: Jason Rogers via flickr

Get your bills paid on time. Never let payments accumulate. Always set aside a specific portion of money for bills. Set a specific amount for food. Set something aside for savings.

Plastics are tempting.

card cutphoto: Raymond Gilford via flickr

Credit cards are options that you should avoid as much as possible. They are a one-way ticket to financial crash and temptation.

Opportunities overseas will help you grow.

 jumpphoto: Mish Shukharev via flickr

Overseas work is an effective way to be at your best. Nobody knows you there; you can be whoever you want. And there are plenty of opportunities overseas plus you get to know different places.

Finally take that hobby you so longed for during college.

sketchphoto: Quinn Dombrowski via flickr

College can give you financial restraints but after you start working, you can be financially free. Paint as much as you want, write as much as you want, hike mountains every weekend. Do the hobby you always wanted to do, they are the extension of your soul.

Humble and genuine — gold.

smilephoto: Kelly Finamore via Flckr

Whatever you achieve later, always remember to be humble and genuine. There’s nothing that can hurt your bubble of success like arrogance.

A new set of friends is very helpful.

friendsphoto: Michael J via flickr

You don’t need to forget college buddies, but you need to forge new acquaintances. They can be a set of helping hands in times of trouble, in the workplace at least. A group of workplace friends can make your daily office work lighter. And sometimes, when a good friendship has been forged, you can even wake up and look forward to work every day.

Exercise is gold.

yogaphoto: raganmd via flickr

Most of the time, new workers may feel the need to work and work, forgetting about health. To keep up, you need also to keep your body at its prime. Exercise to keep your mind alert and to release stress. Start doing it in your early twenties (even earlier) and you’ll be thankful for it later.

Everyone has a story, listen.

6231641551_541c96e583_zphoto: Steven Shorock via flickr

The world is a book. Every person you meet has a story to tell. Once people open up, don’t hurry and try to get your story be heard first. Listen first and tell later. In the pacing of the world today, a listening ear is hard to find. Listening to what people have to say, no matter how little or how trivial, is forging an eternal trust.

And, not all that you need in life is taught in college.

girl flowrphoto: Steven Gripp via flickr

Sometimes our schooling misses the trivial lessons in life. Educate yourself after school, learn from events, people and the trials around you and you’ll be happy and successful in life.

featured image: College Degrees360 via flickr

About Author

Roelen researches, creates, tailors content for outreach and content promotion campaigns as well as social presence management. She likes poetry, blues, The Walking Dead and crime books.