Congratulations, your years of studying are finally over! Graduating and being unleashed into the real world is exhilarating. Everything seems fresh — the world is your oyster and you can do anything you want to. While that is true, the world beyond the four walls of a classroom isn’t always rosy and golden. Here are things I wish I knew when I was a fresh graduate.
It’s okay to make mistakes
Fresh graduates have high expectations of themselves which, in itself isn’t a bad thing, but leaves no room for making mistakes. I knew I beat myself up too many times for not handling a new situation properly or for not being the best at a task I was just given. It’s cliche but it rings true: Mistakes make better over time. Now you won’t repeat the same things and it’s a lesson learned for everyone.
You don’t have to rush
I don’t know about you but when I graduated, it sort of felt like I was in a track and field competition. The gun goes off and everyone rushes out to the track one-upping each other to reach the finish line. Who got accepted into a multinational company? Who’s already on their second job and earning a whole lot more than you? Tune out the noise and focus on yourself. It took me a while to learn that I didn’t have to rush anything at all. We run our own pace in life. Looking over at the other lane from time to time is alright but stare too long and you trip over your feet.
Not rushing means not going for a job because it’s the only one that replied after you got 9 other rejections. It could mean spending a few months after graduation enjoying time with your family. Figure out the pace you’ll work best in because believe me, the right company will call.
Passion is overrated
You’ll always hear advice that pushes you to “Follow your passions.” That’s a good thing but hear me out for one sec. Following your passion could satisfy you but it’s hard work and dedication that makes you truly happy in the long run.
Passion is an emotion, and, like all things human, could be fickle. It’s fleeting. It could change every year. But showing up every day at work and learning to love your craft will never fail you. So would learning what makes you happy and interested in your job.
Financial literacy is important
I’m guilty of spending a few paychecks on items that I don’t have anymore. It was always eating out and shopping every payday, a sort of bi-monthly reward for surviving work. I wish I learned earlier about the importance of saving up, investing, and only spending on my necessities. (I also wish financial literacy was an actual subject in school. If adults know this is an important life skill, why aren’t we teaching it to kids?!).
It’s liberating to earn your own money, but your spending habits could either make or break you someday, so watch out.
Work to live, don’t live to work
Here’s a cold hard truth: You’re dispensable. That means your company can choose to replace you anytime. The moment you’re of no use to them, they could turn their back on you easily. Ouch.
Now, not all companies are like this but I guarantee you’ll encounter a few in your career. This is why you shouldn’t dedicate your life to work. Enjoy your life. Work-life balance isn’t a myth, it’s a choice you make so make sure you spend all those leaves going on vacations with loved ones.
Spend your first couple of years upskilling
As a fresh graduate, be eager to learn about your field. In school, we’re only taught theories of how things work. Out in the field, you finally get to apply those theories and learn even more. Upskilling will not only help you reap benefits in half the time as your other colleagues but it also makes you a valuable employee (and bring home a bigger paycheck). Overall, upskilling is simply being thirsty for learning and growth. As long as you have this, you’re doing good, fresh grad!
Don’t forget to network
Even if you’re an introvert, never brush off the importance of networking. It widens your circle and connects you with other people in and outside your field of work. This will open more opportunities for you in the future such as knowing who to ask for help with a particular problem or even finding a new job. Put yourself out there — challenge yourself even!
Lastly, this phase in life will fly by so make sure to create memories
Don’t spend the first few years of your professional life crouching over your office desk pulling over time after over time. You’ll be shocked to see how time flies. One minute you’re an innocent fresh graduate, the next you’re a young professional dominating your field. Enjoy your career journey but balance it with life outside your office cubicle. Take pictures. Hang out with your friends. Remember, you’re only twentysomething once. Make the most out of it.
Got other tips for our fresh graduates? Share them in the comments section!
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