The 8 Stages Of Finding Your First Job After Graduating From College

Congratulations, you've graduated. Your tireless years of hard work have come to a close, and you've officially launched into the next stage of your life.

Here are eight common stages to expect as you transition from college kid to -- wait for it -- adult.


The possibilities are endless. You're ready to approach new challenges with a fresh perspective and have more ideas than you can vocalize. Now is your chance to spread your wings and fly. You've been waiting for the time to start making actual money and living life on your own terms.


As the excitement of moving into adulthood settles down, you can't avoid missing your old routines. You're longing to return to syllabus week and the security of knowing that you'll be OK if you pull an all-nighter.

Your best friends are no longer at your beck and call, you have to decide what to wear on your own and your social life isn't exactly an overflowing fountain of nights out anymore. Now, you have real world responsibilities and priorities, the most important one being to find a job.

Be kind to yourself and recognize how much you've left behind in the transition of moving out of your college home. Allow yourself time to grieve the loss of your previous routine, your changed relationships and your identity, which experienced a major shift once you stepped off the graduation stage.


Sure, you had a specific major, but you might also be feeling a bit confused about how to translate what you've learned into a job you love.

Do you apply for the easy job where you're a shoo-in, or do you take a shot at something where you're not quite sure you'll make it? Would it be better to volunteer for a year or backpack across Europe to discover exactly what you want to do in life?

The possibilities may seem endless, but at this point that feels like a double-edged sword. With possibility comes important decisions.


You've worked through your grief and acknowledged how overwhelming this stage of life can be. Now, you've accepted that it's time to take action. Acceptance propels you into the next stage.

The Grind

It's time to buckle down and work on your resume and cover letter(s). (Unsolicited advice: You should write multiple cover letters that are unique to each job application.)

You spend your days staring at your computer screen, filling out redundant applications and refreshing the job app on your phone. You're researching companies, and you're constantly rehearsing why you're the perfect candidate or any other off-the-wall questions the HR manager is bound to ask you.

This probably reminds you of the grind you became so accustomed to in your college days, usually right around finals. Channel the grind mindset that made you buckle down and get shit done before.

Living Outside Of Your Comfort Zone

Interviews are naturally anxiety-inducing. You want to present your best self, but you inevitably feel a bit like an imposter. Are you really ready for this? What if they find out that you're faking it until you make it?

Get comfortable being uncomfortable. The only way to gain confidence is to allow yourself these new, somewhat scary experiences. After your first few interviews, you'll learn what works and what doesn't. You'll feel significantly more confident asking questions and sharing your unique strengths and ideas.

Take a deep breath and believe in yourself. Look in the mirror and remind yourself of the many reasons why you're amazing and why you deserve a shot at this job. You've made it to the interview itself, which is an incredible accomplishment.

The Reality Slap

You've been offered the job, and it feels amazing. You celebrate and prepare to meet new colleagues and expand your horizons. You quickly realize that your boss is pretty critical and sets a high bar.

All you want to do is impress them and prove that you aren't a kid working to fill the shoes of the last employee. You work hard to prove yourself and to learn all that you can. Your first job certainly isn't as glamorous as the movies make it out to be.

You're exposed to office politics for the first time. You start to wonder why don't they teach a class about managing the office gossip circuit.

And who came up with working 9 am to 5 pm? Where is your social life supposed come in?

Your New Normal

Be patient with yourself as the redness from that reality slap fades from your cheeks.

You'll settle into this routine just as you did at the beginning of college. At times, it'll feel like a struggle, but you will soon find the balance between being productive at work and nurturing your other relationships. Because there are only 24 hours in a day, you'll have to decide who and what is most important to you.

As you lean into your new normal, you will have the opportunity to live according to what you value and what you are passionate about. This is a time for self-discovery both professionally and personally.

At first, you may wonder, “Is this it?” Realize that you have an entire life ahead of you. This is the first step to living the life you dreamed you'd have.

Have faith in yourself. You've got this.