What I Would Tell My Younger Self, Who Was Terrified Of College Graduation
Over the past couple of months, millions of 22-year-olds finished their four-year life hiatus at some university near you without the slightest idea of what they want to do with their lives when they graduate.
Some landed internships, others, full-time jobs, but many are forced to move back home with Mom and Dad until they figure out what the next step in their life is.
For those who did not land an internship or job and were forced to move back home, you're luckier than you think.
Before you browse through job board after job board, applying for roles that probably don't interest you all too much, understand that you are currently in the best window of opportunity in your adult life. Chances are, you don't have a family to support, mortgage to pay or other expenses that quickly accumulate as you get older.
If I had the opportunity to give my 22-year-old self-advice about being scared to graduate college, here's what I'd say:
As mentioned, it's likely that you don't have a family to feed and a mortgage to pay. Your personal expenses are at an all-time low, so if you've ever toyed with the idea of starting a business, traveling, volunteering, starting a band, etc., now is the time to do it.
Since you're fresh out of college, shacking up with four to five of your buddies or sleeping on an air mattress doesn't sound as unappealing as it does when you hit your late 20s. In addition, you can keep expenses low by continuing your ramen noodle diet, and pour the leftover money into your venture.
The odds of you “failing” are currently at an all-time low.
Say the business doesn't work out, or your new band can't land any gigs. Well, you can then move back home with Mom and Dad and look for a job. You know, what you were probably going to do from the beginning.
You want to travel but have no money? Good.
Now is the perfect time to take on odd jobs while traveling abroad and sleeping in hostels. This idea will probably sound less appealing to you the older you get.
You've probably just spent a couple of years living in a fraternity house with 40 other dudes; why not bunk up with a few strangers for a bit and continue your ramen noodle/fast food diet? Your tolerance for that type of stuff is probably at an all-time low so why not do it now? Believe me, I'm 29. I know that I sure as hell don't want to stay in a hostel and eat crappy food when I travel now.
The internet is at its most advanced state that it's ever been. Back in 2009 when I graduated college, Facebook was just for connecting with friends and people who you met at frat parties the night before. Twitter was a baby and nobody understood why anyone would care about what you were doing at any given moment in 140 characters.
Fast-forward seven years, and there are now people making hundreds of thousands of dollars on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, blogging, you name it. Is it easy? No. But it's possible. And this wasn't possible just eight or 10 years ago.
Additionally, there are now more opportunities to generate income without getting a “real job.” You can flip products on eBay or Amazon, create an app or software program or even become an Uber driver. I know what you're thinking, “I didn't go to college to be an Uber driver.” Well no, but if you drive full-time for Uber you can make roughly $60,000 annually. I'd bet 95 percent of the 2016 graduating class will not make $60,000 in their first job out of college.
Please don't discount the hard work it will take to get there. Just because there is opportunity, doesn't mean you'll succeed. Remember, for every Snapchat, there's a million “snapcraps.” You know how the saying goes though, if you don't try, you'll never know.
Do what you love
It sounds cheesy, I know, but hear me out. You can make a career doing work that you hate or you can make a career doing what you love, so why not do what you love? In addition, if the market crashes again, you can lose a ton of money while working at a job that you hate or you can lose a lot of money working at a job that you love.
Here's an opportunity for you to take a giant step in the direction of your dreams. Subconsciously, you probably attended college because your parents wanted you to or because “that's what everybody does.” In addition, your parents and friends want you to get a full-time job with benefits and a 401(k) because “that's what everybody does.”
This window only stays open for so long. For some it's 10 years, others, maybe just two years. Take advantage while you're young. What's the worst that could happen?