How many of those on graduation day wound up where they expected?

Graduation day!

The answer, I’m afraid, is few. Coming down from the elation of graduation, what I experienced, and what so many of my friends and classmates experienced, can be referred to as the “quarter-life crisis.” Constantly questioning your every move, trying to find a foothold in an attempt to start a career, being forced to take jobs you’re way too qualified for, and yes, possibly working at an unpaid internship, are all characteristic of the quarter-life crisis.

While it’s a problem many are facing, especially millennials (yes we do have souls, and no we are not by definition spoiled, entitled, and selfish), I’m left to ponder the question: did I do this to myself? Evaluating my professional prospects over the year, I’m left with the wholly honest answer — yes.

Although the economy is stamping out the excitement, vigor, and readiness our generation once radiated, I know I could have done more to pad myself from the painful reality of the flinchingly harsh job market, also known as hell.

In my many days spent applying for jobs prior to landing my current gig, I wondered how I was stuck in one, stagnant place while I saw the prized pick of my class move forward with their careers. In response to the question, “So what are you doing now that you’re done with college?” I had to repeatedly answer, “Well, I’m unemployed right now, so I’m still looking.”

I emerged a year after graduation bruised and battered, but wiser. I’ve pored over what went wrong during my college days, and came up with seven ways I could have put myself in a much more desirable situation. The cards were in my hand, I simply chose not to play them.

If you’re about to enter college, or returning for a new semester, read the seven things I wish I had done differently, along with some personal pictures of yours truly.

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