Five Things I Wish I Knew After Graduating College

Graduation season is upon us, which means millions of college students are getting ready to make one of the biggest transitions of their lives. If you or someone you know is about to walk across the stage after years of hard work and dedication, there are key things to keep in mind for the graduate.

Below are five things I wish I knew after graduating from college.

It’s OK to pivot

As a public relations major, I thought the only career option I had was working at a PR agency and grow the corporate ladder. That was until I realized how unhappy I was at every job opportunity that came my way. I eventually realized that there is no one way of achieving success and that it’s up to me to find the career suited for my lifestyle.

You don’t have to have it all figured out

Growing up, a college degree was something my mom used to set standards. I grew up thinking that life would somehow make sense once I graduated with a four-year degree. I soon found out that’s not the case. Life somehow gets even more complicated when you enter the real world, and that’s OK. Learning to embrace the unknowns is part of adulting, and no one really ever has it figured out anyway.

Don’t expect gold stars

After learning about the five love languages, I’ve realized my love language is words of affirmation. I love knowing that I’m valued, appreciated, and on the right track. Unfortunately, the happy faces, kind notes, and gold stars on assignments are a thing of the past once you graduate. I’ve had to learn that just because someone isn’t acknowledging my work and giving me a pat in the back doesn’t mean I’m not doing good work.

Personal branding starts way before you graduate

One of the hardest lessons graduates learn is that a degree isn’t enough to make a good impression in the real world. Whether it’s internships, volunteering opportunities, or simply building a strong LinkedIn profile, there are many things you can do to create a personal brand before graduating. The way you market yourself during college will carry on with you as you transition into the workforce, so make sure you’re putting your best face forward.

Relationships are everything

They say it’s not what you know but who you know that matters. That phrase never resonated as much as when I graduated from college. While grades, GPAs, and community service can help in your journey through college, nothing makes more of a difference than relationships. Transitioning from college to the real world is hard but having powerful people in your network can make it easier.