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Mapping Your Journey: Navigating Life After College

Entering the post-college phase of life can feel like embarking on an exhilarating yet daunting journey. With your degree in one hand, and lofty goals in the other, you may feel like you’re stepping into a world full of opportunities and challenges. As intimidating as this journey may feel, there are different ways to navigate it that will help you thrive in your new normal.

What grads should know about the adjustment period between college and work life

The environment in a workplace will be vastly different than that of a college classroom. On a college campus you’re interacting with people closer to your age who have similar interests whereas going into the professional world, everyone is from different backgrounds, are different ages, and have various titles and leadership roles.

In college there is more flexibility during the day and typically, not every day is exactly the same. At work, you may feel like your days are fuller, and that there are different rules for your new position which can take some adjustment. Just remember to have patience with the process and with yourself.

Finding the best way to make your new normal work for you

Establish a schedule that allows you to take part in your hobbies and interests after work and on the weekends. This is helpful because work can leave us feeling like each day is the same, which can quickly lead to burnout. “Find ways to switch up your routine here and there,” says Blas Villalobos, CEO of Centerstone’s Military Services.

Additionally, it may be helpful for you to find a mentor who can offer support and advice. “Ask as many questions as you can. There are millions of people who have been in your exact position before you, and there is no reason you should try to navigate this hard time alone when there are other people out there who can help,” adds Villalobos.

Finding the best way to adjust to your new social dynamic

Unfortunately, graduation can turn college friends into long-distance relationships. Not having your people around can be hard, especially while trying to navigate a new and exciting, yet overwhelming time in your life – but distance doesn’t mean the friendship is over. It may be helpful to set aside time each week to talk to long-distance friends, whether that be via video chat or phone call. Remember that as you’re navigating this process, so are they. Lean on each other for support and remember that you are not alone.

Making connections in the workplace

When making connections at work, learn the responsibilities of your colleagues so you’ll know how your role interacts with theirs. Villalobos adds,Let people know you’re there to learn and do your best and that you’re open to receiving guidance and support.” It may be helpful to find someone within your field or organization who is in a position you hope to hold one day and ask them how they got there. Develop a relationship with them in an effort to learn from them. They may even be willing to serve as your mentor.

The biggest piece of advice that Villalobos can offer, which was taught to him by his mentor, is to never miss the opportunity to meet with a colleague who wants to connect. You never know what opportunities may arise from making the right connections.

As recent graduates embark on their journey into the real world, it’s essential to remember that the road ahead may not always be smooth, but every obstacle presents an opportunity for growth. Embrace the challenges, celebrate the victories, and remember that the journey is just as important as the destination. If you are overwhelmed during this time and need guidance, Centerstone can help. Call us 877-HOPE123 (1-877-467-3123) or visit our counseling services page to learn more.

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