Part #4 What I wish I would have known when graduating 6 years ago.

This is the final post in the series that I created on graduation/ life advice for recent graduates. 

To recap-

#1 The Importance of a Budget, as scary as it is to see your spending habits, it is the only way you can attack your finances.

#2 Keep Your Turtle Shell Small, because the ability to move will create even more opportunities.

#3 You Will Ultimately Be Responsible for your Career Development, since you have your own best interests in mind.

For the last and final lesson I would like to focus on the perspective of time and decision making:

Part #3- Keep a Perspective on the Time Length of Events

Take a look at the image at the top.  I created the graph based on the following assumptions:

– Your formal education before you start working is 22 years.

– The average millennial’s tenure at their first full time position is 1.5 years according to one source. The time for employees, regardless of what point they are in their careers floats around 4.5 years.  For this reason I created a nice round number of 3 years for your first job.

– I assumed retirement was set at 65.  I realize this can vastly vary on life situations.

– I set life expectancy to 90. 

How does the red make you feel?  Based on my own personal experiences, I put way too much pressure on myself for having everything “figured out” by the end of the red time.  I thought that I had to know what I was going to do for the rest of my career by the time I got work experience under my belt. My hope for recent graduates is that you will realize how small the red is compared to the overall graph. Speaking from the other side of those red years I can honestly say the time went by fast, even though it didn’t feel that way when I was in the thick of things.

How does the green make you feel?  Do you feel overwhelmed?  I remember after my first month of work wondering how I was ever going to make it to retirement. For me, looking at the green drives home the point that it is important to find work that you love.  Your working years are going to comprise a major chunk of your life, so you might as well put thought and effort into enjoying those years.

My point is this: New grads, statistics tell us that your first job isn’t going to last very long.  It is not a “career sentence.”

After a few years my mind changed on what I wanted to do for work.  I associated the word “change” with being unstable and unsure of what I wanted.  I realized that the word to better identify my thought process was not change, but rather evolve.  After my first few years of collective work experiences and outside influences, my mind evolved to have stronger thoughts on my abilities and passions.  This was accomplished by actually getting out and creating new expereinces, not just thinking about what I wanted to do or did not want to do.  Example: I thought I wanted a career that involved an element of public speaking.  I joined a local Toastmaster’s club to test this thought.  I found that I truly did enjoy public speaking and I was actually pretty good at it.  Test you thoughts and assumptions. It will provide you more information than just thinking about what you want to do.

Do I have some final, all encompassing job title and vocational calling? No. Every day is still a learning process in my late 20s.

To all my recent grads, my hope for you is that you enter the workplace mindful of how valuable this experience will be to shaping your identity.  Do not let the experience define your identity as the only type of work you can do, but rather let it contribute as one small piece of the puzzle for your overall career.

  • Gunjan Malhotra

    Absolutely true and you have elaborated it really well. How I wish I knew of things then when I was had no guidance when I started. But now everything seems to be a bit clear and I know I am on the right track and will head somewhere.

    • Laura McClernon

      Gunjan- glad you enjoyed. Getting out there and putting yourself out there in work or professional experiences is a great way to start to see a more clear picture