It was year 2003, when I graduated from the university. Like you, it was the moment that my parents and I have waited to happen. Indeed, it was a moment of euphoria – but at the same time a moment of anxiety.
I understand if you feel anxious when the graduation fun had ended and went home for sleep. You are anxious because, like what your terror professors have always said “tomorrow you will experience the real world”. Those words reverberated on your mind – and you end up wide awake until dawn.
What the hell does “real world” means? What’s in there that makes you nervous?
Here are my unsolicited advice – from someone who graduated a decade ago. Since I graduated, the world has dramatically changed. During my ten years of journey in the so called real world, I was able to collect some worthwhile lessons that might guide you as you start your own outside the walls of your university.
- Dream big but learn to appreciate the small blessings. Forget what your arrogant professor has told you that you must not accept a job offer that will not pay you a huge sum of money (yabang niya lang ‘yun). No employer will pay you a six-digit salary as a new graduate whose learning came from textbooks. Aim for the experience first and do not go after the external rewards – yet. Learn from these experiences as much as you can. Know your colleagues – interact and learn from them. Remember, you are just in the first few steps of your long worthwhile journey. Appreciating small blessings doesn’t mean abandoning your big dreams.
- Grow and nurture your network. As you continue in your first job, start expanding and nurturing your network. Be likeable in your workplace. However, do not limit your networking within your office. Go out and attend various activities that interest you – whether it is related to your job or about your hobbies or personal interests. Introduce yourself to strangers in those events. Get their mobile numbers, email addresses or anything that may reconnect you with them. Maintain your communication with those individuals that fascinated you. Breakout opportunities usually come to those who are visible, believable and likeable!
- Read. Keep learning new things every day. Don’t abandon your reading habits. Read newly published books related to your job or to your interests. This time you have all the freedom to choose what books you want to read and when to finish them. By reading, you will encounter new ideas that might trigger you to think and new concepts that might excite you. If your interest is to start up a business, you may explore Richard Branson, Chris Guillebeau and Guy Kawasaki.
- “Self” Review. Oops! Don’t worry there is no exam. By this, I mean is to always find time to reflect. After 1 year or so on your first job, try to ask yourself the following questions: “am I still learning?”, “am I still excited to go to the office?”, “Would I still want to spend my next two years or so in this company or job?”, “What do I want to do after I resign?”, “What new learning did I acquire?”, “What are the new things that make me excited?”. If you don’t reflect, you just merely exist. You are not living.
- If career is a road, then the “wrong way” sign is not applicable and “swerving” is highly advisable. I am a Secondary School Teacher by profession; however, I have spent 7 years of my life in the mining industry in the area of stakeholder relations. Subsequently, I resigned from my job and started my own training & consultancy firm (http://grupposocial.wordpress.com/2013/03/18/meet-our-team-at-grupposocial/). Others thought of me as crazy for leaving from my relatively high-paying job. Find what will make you happy. Take risks. “If you are not willing to risk the usual you will have to settle for the ordinary.” (Jim Rohn). As you gain more experience; a wider network and a new set of skills, you don’t already deserve the ordinary.
I believe the “real world” is exciting and full of opportunities -contrary to what your professors have said. There is nothing scary in your world now! Find your niche in this “real world” and move.
You are lucky that you graduated in this period where many of the tools that you can use to succeed and serve others are coming to you for free; that you can connect easily to a lot of useful materials; that you can explore the ideas of different individuals around the globe that can inspire you to create your own.
Congratulations! The real world is excited about you!