7 Post-Graduation Lessons: Things I Should’ve Done Differently

Lesson 1: I Should Have Interned While Still In School

319828_287429164689369_1028102855_n3laSee this picture? This is an image of me and my friend/former co-intern, Angela. I didn't start my first internship until just two months before graduating.

I thought I would be overwhelmed by taking on courses and an internship. Though I felt my concerns were valid, I would go on to regret my decision to delay working an internship.

Many internships only hire interns who are still in school, and are credit-only. These days, the quickest way to getting a job is through an internship, as a recent survey found that 69% of companies with 100 or more employees offered full-time jobs to their interns in 2012.

A year later I was still catching up, while my fellow classmates were making money and starting their careers.

Lesson 2: I Should Have Worked Hard and Partied Hard

550557_281522528613366_2018057985_nI'm clearly having a blast in this picture, but I don't feel I partied enough in school, or worked as hard as I should have.

So often, taking an exam is the main factor in determining your grade. That means you don't have to complete all the readings or show up to every single class.

However, college is called higher education for a reason. You're shelling out all that money to grow intellectually, and the payoff will be life-long, instilling a good work ethic, and a wealth of knowledge, which will make you all the more desirable as a potential candidate in the workforce.

There should be a good balance of working hard and playing hard. If you work hard, it's understandable to let off some steam -- plus you'll make some memorable moments!

Lesson 3: I Should Have Been in a Club (Or 10)

321797_10150338299866192_13385674111Wow, this looks great doesn't it?

Unfortunately, I'm not in the picture, because I always felt too shy to branch out and be part of a club or organization. The students in this picture are orientation leaders, helping new students move in and get settled.

Had I been in one club alone, I could have developed strong leadership skills, contributed to an overall goal, and nursed a passion. When I was still in school, I reasoned that an employer wouldn't really care what clubs I had been a part of in college.

Regardless, I was left much worse off in the end. Engaging in clubs would have shown that I was motivated, active on campus, and a real go-getter.

(Image via Lukeoverherephotography)

Lesson 4: I Should Have Capitalized More

401722_262941900471429_727097722_n1I should have capitalized more -- on everything.

If I could go back in time, I would take off the blinders and take a look at everything around me with fresh eyes.

The woman in the picture next to me is a security guard who works in my college's library. She became a good friend while I worked a work study job at my school's library.

I was working a retail job I hated, and my dad (who works in the university system) was able to help me land a job at the library.

I got to know the staff, made friends, and gained solid work experience.



Lesson 5: I Should Have Interacted With My Teachers

4297099755_7a0bd6d6cb_zThis is one of the classrooms in my alma mater, where I spent many a day during my 4 years at school. I minored in history, and one of my professors stands out in my mind as being one of the best teachers I've ever had. Ever.

He was funny, charismatic, moving, and knowledgeable. He was so remarkable -- every single student loved him.

He'll never know I have  these glowing comments about him, because I never got to know him on a personal basis.

I rarely took advantage of the vast office hours my professors offered. I could have talked to him about history, the weather, my grades -- anything. But I didn't. He probably would've been a great mentor.

Aside from that, getting to know my professors on a one-on-one level would have been enriching for me academically and professionally. Having a favorite professor write you a letter of recommendation as you begin your job search after graduation can definitely be helpful.

Lesson 6: I Should Have Opened My Eyes and Relished The True Friends I Made

579388_270565506375735_560422964_njudyIn college, it's so easy to get caught up in the drama.

I had many different friends in my four years at school, but by the end of it, I had only a few that remained true, loyal friends.

The friend pictured here is Judy, an amazing person and a program associate at the Urban Teacher Center. She was my date to our class' Senior Boat Cruise, and my shoulder to lean on when I was navigating my way through unemployment and trying to land a job as a recent grad.

To this day I still count her as a friend, and look back on our memories fondly. I cherish the days spent laughing, talking, and confiding in each other. Relaxing was an activity that was vital in college, and even more vital in the nitty gritty real world.

Lesson 7: I Shouldn't Have Expected Life to Begin The Day I Finished School

545181_268980089867610_2094194246_nI shouldn't have expected my life to begin the day I graduated college.

Life is a lot of hard work. The only opportunities are the ones you seek out, and the ones that emerge when dumb luck falls on your side.

Most likely, you'll be underemployed, because 1 in every 2 recent grads is. You're going to struggle with keeping your work identity from defining you as a person, and if you're unemployed, you might be struggling to get a work identity at all.

All I can say is, try, try, try. Intern during the summers, make some friends and be active in your school. It may feel all wrong to you, but figuring out who you are is an act of determination, and trial and error.

Good luck college grads! In the words of Fordham: "Go forth, and set the world on fire."