I've Graduated! Now What?

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This post was originally published at the Praxis blog

Congrats, graduates! After more than a decade and a half of hard work, you’ve made it! You’re now ready to take on the world and become a free, responsible adult. This is when you are supposed to be able to finally take life by the horns and take control!

But you’ve hit a wall and can’t figure out what the next step should be.

Maybe the job opportunities available to you aren’t all that interesting and you want to have more than just a job — a career into which you can pour yourself.

Maybe you find that the skills you’ve developed over all these years in school aren’t the most marketable for what you want to achieve.

Maybe you want to start your own business but you don’t know where to start.

Maybe you just don’t know what to do and find yourself wondering what the next steps must be.

There may be this nagging feeling that you may just want to try something a little different after 12 or 16 years of doing what you are told to do to be successful. But there’s a catch.

Entering into a world totally unlike the one that we have spent the last 12 or more years can be a difficult, jarring experience for even the most independent of us. We have to go through a process by which we begin to see the world as different than the one of schools, clubs, and Greek life. Jumping into something totally new and different is largely discouraged through school (“You want to change your major? But you’re already a junior! You’ll never graduate on time and it will cost you more money!”) and, besides, you’ve already spent so many years waiting, why prolong that process any longer?

But now is the best time in your life to try something new, something seemingly different or crazy, and something totally out of the box. There’s a good chance you are freer now than you ever will be again. You probably don’t have a family depending on you, a mortgage waiting to be paid, and if you do have student debt, now’s the time to try something riskier before you feel the pressures of adding on even more debt. If you are facing an opportunity to make a good income doing something you don’t think you’d enjoy, chances are you should try new opportunities now — cutting back on your income in the future can be hard.

You’ve probably felt the pressure of people telling you you have to follow a tried-and-true path to success through getting good grades, going to school, and landing a job after school, so trying something totally outside of that comes off as crazy to those giving that advice.

But if you want to be more than simply good and feel simply good about yourself, if you have a feeling that you want to become great at your job, at controlling your life, at developing new skills, now’s the time to jump on that opportunity and try something different.

Now’s the best time to move to a new city, go work at a company you have little experience with, pick up and experiment with a new, crazy hobby, or just generally step outside of your comfort zone. You may feel the pressures of the “real world” encroaching on you now that you have your degree — the pressure to find a secure, boring job, sign a secure, boring lease, and do things that secure, boring people much older than you do.

The great thing for you is this: you can do something different or crazy more easily now than ever again.

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I'm Zak. School should have taught you how to succeed at work and build a great career. Instead, it taught you that mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell. Thankfully, I teach what school never taught.

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