Alternatives to the 9-5 Sentence After Graduating

The idea of going to college for four years to emerge with the promise of a full-time job is a fading dream, vision and goal of today’s millennial’s.

Instead, as a community of confused post-grads, most are seeking alternatives that could last them two to three years before jumping into the black hole of 40 hour work weeks, regimented lifestyle, and most importantly, responsibility.

It’s true that (on paper) we have the rest of our lives to work, so why should we rush it? Of course there are other reasons to seek full-time employment other than just a pay check. It’s the more responsible choice for incentives such as a 401K, health benefits, paid-time off, resume building, establishing relationships, networking, etc. And for some people, this is exactly what they work toward during their time in college. For others, they want more time to do other things besides work, things that are fulfilling, memorable and meaningful. Although the people around them may not agree, like their parents, it’s important that everyone have the option to take a path other than the 9-5 sentence immediately following college graduation.

Traveling is a big alternative. In a way, the 12 years leading up to college graduation has prepared millennial’s for this. We spend a large portion of our education learning about all there is to see and do in this crazy world, it’s only right to seize the opportunity to actually experience some of it instead of just reading about it. In addition, if you’re like me and living at your parents, it’s also a good time to travel financially as you may not be paying rent yet.

Some may also incorporate more schooling into their travels by working towards a master’s degree or doctorate internationally, which is both productive and adventurous. Traveling can also bring perspective into your life and open up different opportunities that may not have existed otherwise.

Taking an internship instead a job right away is a common choice that I’ve been hearing about more and more from recent graduates. Sometimes it can also be necessary if you’re determined to enter a certain field. Whether it be paid or unpaid, sometimes you have to take this route, especially when your job search becomes discouraging.

Volunteering can be a common venture for some. Whether it be a week, month, or a year, there are so many different programs, both domestic and international, working with different organizations that are always looking for more hands. This is a good opportunity to gain some perspective as well as defer your loans while you figure out what it is you really wish to peruse. Also can’t hurt to add it to a resume…

Working a part-time job while working on job applications is something everyone should consider. If all you do is fix up cover letters, send out resumes and compulsively check your inbox in the hopes of getting an interview, you will drive yourself mad. Fill some of your time with a mindless job with people your own age, while also making some cash. The job search can be longer than expected, I can tell you that first hand, and I’m sure many would agree.

Going back to school is popular, whether it be to advance your degree in what you studied in undergrad, or, completely changing career paths and going back to study an entirely different subject. But, this leads to more debt (for most people) which is something I’m personally trying to avoid.

Or, if you went and got your given degree and never want to succumb to the 9-5 lifestyle, as many choose not to, that’s more than okay too. I think the most important choice you can make is just to choose what makes you happy even when others don’t always approve or agree with your decision.

There are also so many alternatives for people to ponder, these are just a handful of choices. If you have any other ideas, please comment below!

Cheers!

 

 

 

 

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Life’s A Marathon, Not A Sprint

It’s definitely been a year filled with a multitude of changes, highs and lows, and unexpected opportunities. I guess I haven’t been able to write in a few months because I was short of inspiration, or maybe I was just tired of talking about the same topics and sounding like a broken record. But I think it all really boils down to me beginning to care about how others viewed me; for reasons varying from not climbing the career ladder to living at home to even not having a boyfriend. However, the past few weeks have changed my perspective and silenced these external pressures because what I’ve realized is that no matter what I’m doing, or how much money I’m making, or where I’m living or living with, my family and real friends won’t judge me, they’ll support me, and that is a powerful feeling to embrace.

All of these external pressures of finding a full-time job, finding a boyfriend, moving out, having a plan, etc.– they’re always going to be there because life is constantly changing and that’s pretty exciting. As I talked about in a previous post, life is full of setbacks in which we cannot prepare for, it’s all about how we choose to handle them. I don’t necessarily want to know what the rest of my life holds right now, I just want to take it day by day. I’m not insinuating it’s wrong to have a plan, but it’s also okay not have one as well, but sometimes it’s hard to live in a society that constantly criticizes, instills ideas of conventional-ism and expects you to have your shit together the second you graduate college.

There have been plenty of things that have knocked me down since graduating, and I’m sure I’m not the only one who has faced a plethora of obstacles, and maybe I take some comfort in knowing I’m not the only one, sorry if that makes me selfish but your 20s are all about being selfish apparently.

My resilience has been a great asset to me, particularly in recent months. Between unsuccessful job searching, relationships, frustrations of living at home, financial struggles, it felt like the skies were never going to clear and I was always going to be walking with a rain cloud above my head. Then I stopped feeling sorry for myself  and everything changed; the happiness I’ve found is something I can’t explain, but I found it through different things which I’ll explain in a future post.

Some questions that I really cannot stand and get farther under my skin than possible, are those of “So, what are you doing now?” and “Why aren’t you dating?”. First of all, do not ask me what I’m up to when there’s a 90% chance you follow me along social media and probably know the answer to your own question- just ask how I’m doing, and if I choose to elaborate further then great, but chances are if I don’t see you very often, you probably don’t care that much so stop using that as a filler for small talk.

The dating question primarily comes from family members and since I haven’t dated in a while, they probably all think I’m a secret lesbian, but that is in fact, NOT the case. I have different reasons for being single, but primarily I just haven’t met anyone worth the time yet and I’m content with that because right now is all about me and I want to love myself before I love anyone else.

I think what I’ve really learned this year, virtually through social media postings, is that everyone is on a different path, some are overcoming larger obstacles or taking more significant steps, but that’s just how it is. Half of my generation are getting engaged, married, starting families and buying houses, while the other half is getting blacked out every weekend and soaking up their 20s; I’m happy to say I fall into the second half of that sentence. Whatever your path is right now or how far along you are in this marathon of life, be proud of it because it’s your life and your life is something you should always take pride in.

I was asked in an interview a few weeks ago, ‘What do I define success as?’, and my answer was as simple as this: Being successful, for me, means being completely confident both personally and professionally. When I finally stop second-guessing myself or my work that is when I know I’ve been successful. In addition, the qualities I’ve found that are fundamental to possess in your 20s include, but are not limited to,  perseverance, resilience, strength, confidence, and ultimately, being true to yourself.

                 Remember that life is not a sprint, it’s a marathon, so go at your own pace, you’ll arrive where you’re supposed to be when it’s time, so enjoy the run.

Stay tuned for next week when I discuss the books that have aided me through the frustrations of post-grad life!

What I Wish I Knew As A Freshman

With most students heading back to school this week, I want to share a post talking about my college experience and any advice I would have for incoming freshman. I’m definitely not qualified to dish out advice, but I can certainly reflect on my four years and discuss certain aspects I would have done differently, especially predicaments involving financials and long-term effects.

I understand that it’s not easy to make decisions regarding the future when you’re first starting off, everything appears to be more exciting than it actually is and you’re so focused on just living in the now. How do I know that? Because I disregarded any and all practical advice from recent graduates or people who actually did know better than myself. And if I could go back and listen I would because I often want to go back five years ago and shake my eighteen year old self and tell her that college isn’t just all about the partying and newly instated independence from your parents. So, I’ve compiled a list of things I would do differently in college if I were given the chance, and hopefully someone will listen.

If you live anywhere remotely close to your chosen university- LIVE AT HOME.

Although I loved living on campus and have so many great memories from doing so, I would also be significantly less debt now had I lived at home. I only lived 20 minutes from campus and chose to live there instead of driving there for class. Living at school definitely presents you with a different college experience, and I highly advise living there for at least your first year because that’s when you will meet most of your friends for the next four years, but if you have the ability to commute, do so, because once you graduate, you will be financially able to move out of your parents’ house. Now I am 23 still living at home because my student loans restrict me from doing otherwise. It’s probably time for me to start looking into my options. For instance, I could consider refinancing them with Earnest for one monthly payment at a lower interest rate.

Do an internship at least one summer during your college career.

I held two different internships during college, but neither of them took place during the summer. I was so focused on relaxing and having just mindless, part-time summer jobs that I waited until my senior year to have an internship, which I had to do during the semester, causing more stress on top of my already existing stress. Also, most summer internships that are full-time are usually paid so that’s a bonus! I would recommend doing it the summer going into junior year so that the following summer, predisposed at your “last” summer before the real world, can be yours for the taking. My friends and I lived at the beach that summer and I wouldn’t trade that for the world. It’s also incredibly crucial to have some type of internship experience when applying for jobs so keep that in mind!

If you have a meal plan, USE IT.

I know as well as the next person that cafeteria food isn’t always appealing or appetizing, but if you’re paying for a meal plan, you might as well get the most out of it and save your cash for other things besides eating out with your friends multiple times a week. Part of the reason I was always so low on cash during college was because my friends and I would decide to go off campus for dinner or lunch instead of swiping into the dining hall, or in later years, making food in our kitchen at the house. And trust me, I know the thought process of “It’s only $7” or “I get paid tomorrow so who cares” but once you start consistently thinking those things, the tab starts to add up and your checking account continues to diminish.

You do not need a new outfit every weekend.

I suppose this one more accurately applies to girls, but maybe not. Some weeks when Friday would roll around, my roommates and I would begin to think about what we would be wearing out that weekend and even between four full closets and over stuffed drawers, not one of us would be able to find an outfit acceptable enough to wear out. This resulted in a mall trip, usually ending in the swiping of our debit cards. Trust me, the black shirt you just purchased resembles the other 500 black shirts you already own.

If possible, get a part-time job.

I know that it isn’t always possible with heavy workloads during different semesters, but if you can, hold a part-time job during the school year. If you have to sacrifice a Friday or Saturday night for work, just do it. I promise that the frat party will be the same next weekend. You also don’t want to be that person who has mom and dad constantly wiring money to your account every week as an “allowance”, no one should be getting an allowance after the age of sixteen.

If you’re unsure about what to major in, go to community college first.

This might be my biggest regret. I went in as a History major, then to Communications, then into the School of Business until finally declaring Marketing my junior year.  Although I believe I received a good education at my four year college, those first two years of taking gen eds could have been done at any school for a way lower price. So, if you’re undecided, take your early credits somewhere else and then transfer to a larger school!

GO TO CLASS.

I’m not saying I was a no-show to every class or someone who just showed up for the mid-term and final, but I definitely did my fair share of skipping. Attendance can so critically effect your grade, it’s scary. It doesn’t matter if you ace every test, project and assignment, you could still end up with a B in the class due to lack of attendance. I understand there are times where skipping is necessary, but try to stay under the allotted amount of skips allowed per semester.

Starting college is such an exciting time that is filled with so much opportunity you don’t even realize. But the decisions you make during your time there truly do effect you in the long run. How much effort you put into each class, how you spend your summers, where you live, how much money you borrow in financial aid, who you date, what you do on the weekends. Everything has a consequence, whether that be positive or negative, is up to you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Like For A Like

We used to judge someone’s popularity based on how many Myspace friends they had, then that graduated to Facebook friends, and then to Instagram followers and likes. I can’t lie and say I’ve never fallen victim to silently linking unpopularity to a low number of Instagram followers, especially in college, but can now confidently say that your social media “friends” have nothing to do with your friends.

Now, it’s almost annoying to have to have an excessive amount of connections on social media because I constantly find myself wondering who some of the people are in my feed, and more importantly, why am I liking their posts? There are multiple times a day I find myself having to click and creep on someone’s Facebook page to figure out who the page actually belongs to, which basically admits I spend entirely way too much time on social media, but I know I’m not the only one guilty of this. Why am I liking pictures of your dog, your brother-in-law’s friends baby, your dinner or your new hair style? It has become second nature to like multiple Instagram posts in a row, most of the time without even really taking notice to what’s in the square frame. And the fact that the stigma associated with likes and popularity has increased so much in the last four years just makes me realize how much wasted time on social media has also increased. For example, when Instagram started becoming popular a few years ago, a lot of likes was considered 30 or more, now, people pray not to be cursed with receiving less than 100. But a good enough caption can go a long way.

The number 100 doesn’t seem large in the grand scheme of the things, but seriously who actually has 100 friends? If we were only connected on social media sites with just the people we’re friends with, I would have about 25 followers. I have almost 800 Instagram followers and over 1,000 Facebook friends, so you can see my issue with the ratio here; averaging at 150 likes, only about 17% of them I talk to on a regular basis.  Maybe my definition of a friend differs, but my standard includes anyone I would be comfortable hanging out with one on one. However, we live in a society obsessed with social media and constant communication, so we follow people we met once eight years ago and continue to be dedicated likers. Again, guilty.

It’s pretty sad that in college you may have been considered a bitch if you didn’t like someone’s post that continually liked yours. Either that, or the person thinks they wronged you in some way. Or, someone didn’t think you’re attractive. God, what an asshole. But putting it into perspective, half the time I don’t even like a picture, I just tap twice because I feel indirectly, morally obligated. It’s like an unwritten rule among millennials. But when do we draw the line? Will we forever be following and supporting  people’s life decisions, events, news, and announcements through a virtual thumbs up or heart? Will this continue on until we’re eventually liking pictures of their grandchildren’s first day of school? I honestly have no idea because the social media market is constantly growing and changing, I’m almost hoping Myspace makes a comeback one day.

I’m not saying it’s ridiculous or wrong in any way to ‘like’ our acquaintance’s posts, I’m just examining the reality behind it. Maybe one day I’ll dissect my list of friends on Facebook to those I’m close with, or sift through Instagram and delete people I met in high school who I haven’t seen or heard from since graduation, but until now I’ll continue to religiously like the pictures and posts in my news feed.

 

Does College Groom You To Become A Professional Bullshitter?

Not only in regards to work ethic, college has groomed us to become professional bullshitters in everyday life. Whether it’s pretending to know what you’re talking about at work or lying to your parents about your ‘good’ financial standing in order to justify your degenerate weekend habits, we’ve all become really, scarily good at pretending, lying and fabricating.

Driving home from work one night last week, I heard the latest way college students are sliding by and continuing to do the bare minimum. Coming up short for a lengthy essay? Write in a bunch of random words at the end, make them the smallest font size possible and change the font color to white. Apparently you can cut out a significant amount of those required words.

Half the battle in college, particularly dealing with presentations, is acting like you know what you’re talking about, being confident, sounding educated and not seeming nervous or flustered. Not much has changed from college to work. Whenever I’m asked a question I’m unsure of, or just not completely positive, I just nod my head with reassurance that I comprehend it and am in the loop. However, 80% of the time, as soon as someone walks away I’m breaking into a panic in my head, fingers are going 100 mph on the keyboard, searching for something relevant to the topic, attempting to figure it out. It’s all about playing it cool. I came across this meme on Twitter and found it so fitting for this post.

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And even when you know you’re doing something wrong, or outside your scope of work at the office, you always have a back-up plan, or response, in case you get caught. For example, printing personal stuff, browsing through social media or online shopping, there is always a part of you that is playing devil’s advocate, brainstorming ways to BS your way out of the potential situation of being caught.

Furthermore, when it comes to discussion board posts or papers, sometimes all you have to do is ramble on and on until you convince someone else, or even yourself, that you’re making sense and telling the truth. Similarly to small talk at the office, when someone asks how your weekend was, you’re obviously not going to respond with, “Omg so much fun, I blacked out in the city with my friends, spent most of my time recovering in my bed and virtually achieved nothing productive.” So, you simply say, “It was really good, super relaxing, how about yours?”

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This also occurs when my parents question my spending habits on the weekends. “I thought you were trying to be more conservative with your money and spend less?” Casually, I respond with something similar to, “Yeah I am, I picked up a babysitting shift so I haven’t really touched my paycheck yet.” Half truth, half lie, but I have to keep the bullshit coming especially when it comes to money to avoid a row with my parents, and also myself. Sadly, I think I internally lie to myself about my ridiculous spending habits on unnecessary clothes, food & alcohol. But I forgive myself.

We bullshit through everyday interfaces as well; whether you run into someone randomly and say you’re doing good, even though you might be having a shitty day, you justify buying that $20 pair of shoes because you didn’t spend as much as you anticipated over the weekend, or tell your parents you only had 1 – 2 drinks at happy hour after work, we are bullshitters.

Will we ever get to do something with substance, or are we doomed to a life of bullshit?

All Groan Up by Paul Angone

Over the summer, I had read this book I found on my older sister’s bookshelf, in search of some answers. I was in a really big slump; I had just returned from an endless month of binge drinking, an unemployed lifestyle, and living with my friends at the beach. For the first time in a  long time, I didn’t know what was next, since I wouldn’t be returning to school in the fall.

At first, I was in no rush to seek a full-time job. I felt I had earned this time off somehow, but slowly realized that a life of doing nothing can be endless, mundane, and cause a lot of anxiety.

Once I got a new car, I began babysitting again, which made things better, but as summer came to an end, I felt this internal pressure that just kept screaming “What now?”

A question that many of us face, and unfortunately, never have an answer to.

This book entails a time line of a guy who struggled a for a long time with post-grad life. Unfortunate endeavors, dead ends, highs and lows, and small victories. His story and his writing is inspiring and made me feel okay about the current state I was in. He makes his readers know that it’s acceptable not to have a concrete plan or a road map to success, and sympathizes with the struggles faced by recent graduates who live in a world full of unknown. Paul Angone outlines what it’s like to be in the real world with absolutely no answers, through his personal experiences and endeavors, and how he finally got to where he wanted to be through hard work and a lot of trial and errors.

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And he was right, things do work out, even if takes some time to and even if they end up in ways you didn’t expect.

I’m working in an industry I never would have imagined myself in, and maybe I won’t work in this industry forever, but it’s a starting spot and has put me in a really good place personally, financially, and professionally.

Do I know what’s coming next? Probably not, but at least I know I’m stable and excited to continue on this journey.

For anyone who feels the way I felt over the summer and the months following, I highly advise reading this book. At a job you don’t love? Read this book. Contemplating grad school? Read this book. Feeling like the world after colleg is out to personally victimize you? Read this book. Get the point?

In addition to this read being emotionally fundamental, it’s also super funny and witty so super entertaining!

If you do end up reading this book based off my suggestion, I would love to hear feedback! Enjoy!

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I don’t know how to do my taxes, but I can tell you when Michelangelo died

At the end  of a recent post, I started questioning why our college educators waste their time teaching us irrelevant subjects that have no relation to our focus of study, like philosophy and history. And I’m not insinuating that I didn’t enjoy these courses, because most of the time, they landed at the more vibrant end of the spectrum after putting my course load into perspective. However, they serve no purpose to me, especially when it comes to getting a job, starting my career, and making important decisions that effect me long-term. My concern here is mostly that these irrelevant classes that make up our “core curriculum”, could have been replaced by more useful and insightful tips for everyday life. (And also that most classes like these require you to buy a custom made textbook from your hippie and homeless looking professor that your school store never buys back).

For most of us, we graduate from school and are faced with decisions regarding our loan payments like how many years we wish to make payments for, where to consolidate them, fixed or variable interest rates, etc. Now for us business majors, we were fortunate to have finance classes included in our curriculum, so we know a thing or to about that language of rates and numbers that’s almost incomprehensible. But for those of you who were in either a School of Liberal Arts or School of Nursing, God help you and pray that you’re blessed with parents who can help with these hefty decisions.

As it’s now February, it’s accountants favorite time of the year- tax season! And as a lot of my friends are slaving away day in and day out crunching numbers, my other friends are probably clueless on how to even begin filing their taxes. Even as business major, I don’t think I could do it alone. Why weren’t we taught something useful like this? Tax season is something that is inevitable for the rest of our lives as long as you hold a job. And since all us tax payers are all looking for the same end goal, to receive the biggest return, it’d be nice to have an idea on achieving that.

Other useful things that might not be relevant to us now, but will be in the future, are expenses and responsibilities like mortgages, home owners insurance, life insurance, drawing up wills, etc. I’ll stop there because I hope that most people reading this are no where near dying, but still, it would be nice to have common knowledge on these concerns when the time comes.

Truth be told, when I’m faced with any practical life decisions, I don’t think knowing about Dolly Madison, Aristotle, when the Sistine Chapel was painted, how to cite a research paper, or how to determine how train X made it from point A to B, will prove useful. Sure, some of this might be interesting knowledge to possess, prove helpful during a round of Quizzo, or serve as random fun facts, but I don’t find them as being worth the amount they cost in tuition dollars. But again, I guess we’re not paying for what we actually learn, just the proof that we put our time in and got that expensive piece of paper at the end.