College is pretty unfair. You’re 18, you just finished high school, and all of a sudden you have to decide what you want to do for the rest of your life. You barely had any time to breathe, and figure out what things you like, let alone the stuff that you would want to do forever. After graduation, you might feel lost and alone. Don’t worry, we’ve all been there.
The scary thing about this feeling is that it looks like it’s never going to go away. And that’s true to some extent. You’re always going to want to better yourself, and you’re going to keep on finding new things that excite you. Statistics show that less than 30% of college graduates actually work in the same field they majored in. So having a change of heart after college is perfectly normal. Accept the fact that you’ll constantly be looking for a change. And cherish this feeling. This is what’s going to keep you going, long after you’ve found a steady job.
If you’re not sure about what you want to do, but you want to figure it out soon, it might be a good idea to just jump straight in. Find a job that’s not too demanding, and get used to the work environment. It’s probably not going to solve all of your problems instantly, but it’s definitely going to challenge you and help you see things from a different perspective.
You can continue working on other things as well, like your hobbies, or other activities you stopped pursuing during college. Some companies have all sorts of features for their employees that help them keep track of their work and other important information, so you can schedule around your job and focus on other things during your free time. You gain some valuable work experience, and still have plenty of time to figure stuff out. Not to mention the fact that you’ll have some money set aside to invest in your passions.
Volunteering for a period can help you find out more about yourself, and how you would fare in a work environment. Even if you don’t find your dream project, you can still feel proud of yourself for giving back to the community. It’s a great opportunity to meet a lot of wonderful people, who are maybe more experienced than you, and can give some advice.
It’s important to keep your spirits up during this period. It’s not going to feel this bad all the time, so the best thing you can do right now is to make this experience as manageable as possible. Talking to people can really help, especially when you’re unsure about so many things. You’ll discover that everyone has gone through this at some point in their life. And they might have some valuable stories about how they got through it.
Meeting new people is also going to help you figure out what you want to do. First-hand experience is always preferable if you want to make an informed decision, but there are so many things to do out there, you’re just not going to be able to try them all.
You can always set up a meeting with a professional career counselor. The fact that that there is an actual field that deals with this sort of problem should tell you how widespread your issue is. Counselors can help point you in the direction that is right for you.
No matter what you decide to do during this period of transition, never forget that your wellbeing is a top priority. Get to know yourself anyway you can. Otherwise, you may have a hard time landing a job, or keeping it after you got it, because you won’t know what you are looking for. And you might end up even more confused than you are right now.
There are a lot of people who ended up having successful careers late in their life. And you’re barely in your 20s. Nobody really expects you to have it all figured out. And this is a pretty important thing, so taking some time to think about it is actually the right course of action.
This article was contributed by guest author Marc Mendelman.