This week I participated in a round-table session at one our local universities. It was an opportunity for invited employers to meet with students who were interested in knowing what they could do with their degree and how to make the transition from full-time student to full-time adult.
I really enjoy meeting with students. I do. What I find challenging though is not being completely honest with them. I don’t mean I lie to them, but if I told them exactly what I was thinking I would probably come across as being a complete downer.
I’m not jaded, discouraged or check-out. At least not today. But then again, it’s Saturday and I’m still in my pjs.
Seriously though – I’m good with how things are going, even on the tough days; however, it wasn’t an easy ride. There were times (man, many times) when I asked myself: “What they hell am I doing…where am I going…what’s the point…this is bullshit”.
So how do you tell a new grad that?
How do you tell them that yes, networking and building relationships is very important. Try doing volunteer work (on top of your school studies and the job you have to do to pay for your school). Contact people and interview them. Stay positive. Take extra courses. Join ToastMasters. Sleep 8 hours a night. Exercise regularly. Smile all the time. Watch your SoMe footprint.
How do you throw out all those ideas to them (these were all things presented at the session)…but still convey that even doing all of those things will not guarantee you anything. Especially if your degree is in Psychology.
I try to be open and honest with grads, but I do this with a positive approach. I believe it’s important to set realistic expectations. There are very few people who graduate with a degree and are able to follow steps A, B, C, and then land at D…their ideal career.
Most people graduate with their degree and then look for a job. Any job. Then they look at how they can find a job in an area that is related to what they studied (assuming they still want to work in that area). Then they get another job (in non-related field). Then they might take another job in the same company, but now even less related to what they studied. Then they decide to take studies in a new area…hopefully one that will help them move onward in the area they are currently working in, but sometimes people to try a complete re-set and go back to school and start the process all over.
This is generally when people think “WTF?!” What’s the point of this?
Here’s the positive spin on this. You know all those unrelated jobs you worked at. You met people. You learned skills. You found out that you are good at things that you never even considered. You realized that there are things you absolutely hate doing. You became self-aware. You gained experience. You made mistakes. You did good work. You joined the “real world”.
So, my message to many of the students was yes, be open to all opportunities that come your way, but don’t think there is only one path to get where you are going. The knowledge, skills and experience that you get from taking the scenic route is what gives you perspective and depth. Work your ass off, keep your eyes and ears open, and be willing to take the side roads.
That’s what makes you a full-time adult.