I remember being in college, working two jobs, going to class and finding time to drink in my spare time.
I had a stack of papers waiting to be completed, sitting right next to my growing to-do list and empty piggy bank.
I remember thinking to myself, “Life will never be any more hectic than it is right now.”
And looking back, I would like to gut-punch my former self.
College was cake.
Fast-forward through a couple years of paying my bills with quarters, writing for the school newspaper and a short, yet very expensive walk across the stage for an empty diploma holder, and ta-da, I was knee-deep in reality.
What they don’t tell you while you’re making plans for your post-grad future is there is so much more that goes into what comes next than just passing classes.
So, here are some tips for you naive little humans who are still mainly concerned with how to simultaneously create a killer résumé and make it to class only semi-hungover.
1. Go make that killer résumé.
Do it now, not tomorrow, not next week and not when you’re applying for jobs.
Put down the ramen and start working on it because that piece of paper is just the cherry on top of the stuff you will need to have readily available when you start applying for jobs.
Make it look professional, and condense it to one page.
Find references that don’t include your drinking buddies.
And for goodness sake, have someone check your spelling and grammar.
(Nothing quite seals the “We’re not going to hire you” option like using the wrong version of you’re/your on the document you represent yourself with.)
That is one less thing you will have to worry about when you are trying to put all of the pieces together.
2. Start thinking about money.
Okay, so right now, you can get by with roughly $300 a month (I did it, and it was wonderful), but those days won’t last forever.
When you make it to the real world, just when you think you’ve paid all you can pay and you start to get comfortable, another expense will show itself.
So, start saving.
As soon as you get out of college, start saving (if you can).
Make a nest egg, throw a very cheap celebration when you contribute to your savings account, make a game out of it or do whatever you need to do to find the motivation.
But save because one day, you will need it.
You will need quick money, right then and there.
And if you plan ahead, you will have it ready to go.
Yes, it will still hurt to write the check. It always does.
But, it’s better than putting it on credit and paying more for it in the long run.
3. Move back home if you need to, just for awhile.
Not everyone has the option, but if you do, go stay with your parents for a while longer.
Because of the unconditional love they have for you and such, they are usually a little more lenient on things like rent, food and utility expenses than your run-of-the-mill landlord.
This gives you a little more time to get on your feet and save up.
4. Don’t expect it all at once.
When you’re in college, you have this idea that as soon as you get out, it will all fall into place: the house, the car, the job.
However, more often than not, it’s not so simple.
You may go to a million job interviews with no callbacks, you may start losing hope and you may start forgetting your self-worth the longer things take to come together.
But, my advice to you is to not.
Don’t forget all of your hard work, don’t forget how far you’ve come and don’t get too discouraged.
You are in a big sea with a lot of big fish, and at times, the level of competition in the job market today can be a hard pill to swallow.
But remember that everyone has to pay his or her dues.
While you may not get the Barbie Dreamhouse during the first go-around, keep working hard and the doors will open.
5. Work hard to stay in touch with friends, and have fun.
With everything coming in at once, it can be really difficult to stay in touch with your friends and remember to do things for fun.
Life is like this avalanche, and it keeps piling up stuff on one side.
If you aren’t careful and take some time apart from your professional goals, you can easily become overwhelmed.
If you have to schedule a lunch two months in advance to make it work, then do that.
Have things to look forward to that don’t include job searching and a string of interviews.
Plus, all of your college friends will be going through similar experiences, and misery loves company.
It always helps to know you aren’t on the sinking ship alone, and it gives you something to take your mind off all of the adulting you have scheduled on the calendar.
There are a lot of things I wish I would have expected during this transition in life.
While times can be hard, taking the necessary measures can make this step in life just a little easier.
Just remember that at some point, everyone was here and experienced the same struggles and victories that you will.
After all, throughout life and at any given moment, we're all just works in progress.
So, don't sweat it too much.