Stressing about landing a dream job post-graduation is something every college student does at one point throughout their college career, especially college seniors.
Salary and work/life balance are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of common, but vindicated fears for young adults taking on the inevitable shift into post-graduate life.
The most important thing and the hardest thing to do are invariably the same, regardless of the situation: Don't stress out too much because everything will be OK.
As long as the necessary footwork is done and all due diligence is taken care of, everything will work out.
Before embarking upon a deep-dive into the exact methodology of acquiring a top-notch, entry-level position at a Fortune 500 company, let's get one thing straight: There's no such thing as an entry-level “dream job.”
Of course, there are desirable positions everyone wishes to fill after graduation, but in today's job market, it's rare the position you land after graduating is the path you maintain throughout the entirety of your career.
Unless a candidate is a self-made millionaire by the age of 22, there is pretty much no amount of experience that can justify completely skipping the entry-level stage in their career and propel them into a manager role.
Some college students are convinced their highly-coveted internships will instantly land them amazing jobs at dynamic companies with extremely large salaries, but that isn't the case.
Internships are incredibly valuable and necessary for a candidate to be taken seriously, but they aren't so valuable that they're viewed as entry-level positions.
They're opportunities to learn about a specific industry; they provide a hands-on experience and a baseline knowledge of a company and its place within whatever landscape it resides.
Internships are valuable to more than just a resume, as they afford college students and college graduates opportunities to recognize how big the working world is and to see the basic day-to-day workings of office life and culture.
So if you're a college student who's surrounded by an extremely ambitious friend group with clear career prospects while you feel completely lost, you're not alone.
Senior year is a pivotal point in life: You're ending one chapter and getting ready for the next, no matter how unknown it may seem.
It's important to put the necessary legwork in and to take the steps to ensure you land a job, but it's also important to recognize that you are never going to be a senior in college again.
Enjoy the minimal responsibilities, the people around you and the relationships you've been fostering for four years. Try to enjoy your classes, your extracurricular activities and be present for the day-to-day life of a college student.
Think of ways you can leverage your activities and experiences into storylines as you prepare for your inevitable interviews. Take advantage of as many informational interviews as possible.
If you start early enough and go to bed every night having done one productive thing toward getting a job post-graduation, then the day was a success. Little things eventually add up to something great.
Every involvement you have, whether it's a good one or a bad one, has the potential to be a worthwhile learning experience.
Enjoy your time as a student.
Find comfort in the reality that your schedule only consists of fewer than 20 hours a week in class.
Enjoy that you have peers and students who are on the same level as you are. Enjoy the time when you have the ability to ask questions with minimal backlash.
Enjoy the gift of taking naps in the afternoon with virtually no consequences. Take advantage of having such an open schedule and fill it with things you enjoy doing.
Find worthwhile things to do, but, more importantly, find yourself.
Life is a constant journey of discovering the best version of you, and college is no exception. College is the time when boys become men, girls become women and dreams become realities.
Attend office hours even when you don't need to, go to activities on campus that might seem weird at first glance, and step out of your comfort zone so you can enjoy things you never thought you'd enjoy.
You're only a senior in college once; enjoy it while you still can.
Discover what you want to do.
Take an inventory of what classes you liked, what classes you didn't like, and try to leverage your interests into a job after graduation.
Peruse the internet and read up on different industries. Don't search for jobs with an ideal salary in mind; search for jobs with an ideal set of responsibilities.
Read up on successful people in whatever industry you'd like to break into, but don't try to mimic or replicate that experience in any way. Find your own path, start your own journey and enjoy the ride.
If you love talking to people, think about sales. If you love crunching numbers, think about a supporting role or desk job. If you love making a difference, think about a non-profit where the work is rewarding and you can see the change and impact you're making.
It might not seem like it in the midst of graduation rapidly approaching, but the real world isn't a race to be the most successful in the shortest amount of time. There should be no rush to get a job, move to a big city, make a lot of money and live an amazing life.
As long as you put in the effort and don't completely slack off, everything will fall into place. Rest assured, take your time.
If you know what you want to do and have an industry in your crosshairs, start laying a solid foundation. Go to your school's career office and start making connections.
Talk to your parents or your parents' friends and begin making those connections.
Form storylines from your experiences so that you can sell yourself and sell your ability to do a job well. Start initiating those conversations so they can morph into connections you can leverage into job interviews.
Your senior year should be about taking advantage of as many informational interviews as possible. They might seem mundane, useless and cumbersome, but they'll come in handy down the road.
Don't walk into every conversation with the notion that you'll get concrete results at the end of it; look at it as another rung in the ladder of finding a job.
Realize that every person on the other end of that phone or at the other side of the table is taking time out of their busy life to help you land a job doing something you love.
Take the time to thank them, learn about their path and use some of their mistakes or triumphs to your own benefit. When they were young adults, they did exactly what you did, and they know how to get jobs.
Not every conversation is going to be a grand slam, and, conversely, not every conversation is going to be a strikeout. Take whatever you think will help you and leave the rest for the next person.
Stick with it and don't give up.
If you've done all the things mentioned above and you continue to do them on a daily basis, even a little at a time, you'll be in a great place when you graduate.
If you keep doing what you're told and take the pearls of wisdom people offer, you'll be OK.
And now that you have an idea of what you need to do for your future, be present for today. Look down and look at where your feet are, that's where your head should be.
If you're sitting in your college cafeteria having lunch with friends, be present and enjoy your friends' company. If you're in the library writing your senior thesis, be present and put everything you have into that paper.
There are two days of the week you don't need to worry about: yesterday and tomorrow.
If you have one foot in yesterday and one foot in tomorrow, all you're doing is pissing on today. Everything that's happening in this exact moment is happening for a reason.
Recognize your place in your life and surroundings, and be the best person you can be.
Life is a journey of peaks and valleys. You're going to succeed, but you're also going to fail. You need to hit speed bumps and make mistakes so that when you do well, you know what it feels like to bounce back.
If there weren't failure, there wouldn't be success. If there weren't bad things, there wouldn't be good things.
Dichotomies are crucial to life and the human experience. Do what you need to do, make the most out of every experience, and be comforted by the fact that everything will work itself out in the end.