Guest blogger Randi Lucius graduated in May 2008 with a BA in Communications from Westfield (MA) State College and joined Pongo as an online marketing specialist in August. Now, with a year of the real world behind her, she shares her thoughts on the disparity she and her friends have found between where they are and where they thought they'd be one year out of college.
One year ago this month, my entire life changed. I suddenly found myself without money, without my own apartment, without my friends, and, worst of all, without a stream of cheap alcohol at my constant disposal. The horrific event that changed my oh-so-sweet way of life? College graduation.
This month, thousands of students will find themselves transformed from carefree party-animal college students to buried-under-debt "adults." They'll have to don suits, prepare resumes, and sell themselves to potential employers so they can pay off all the student loans and credit card bills they racked up from years of four 30-packs a week and shopping sprees at the mall.
Welcome to the real world, my friends!
While I was thinking how my life has changed (or hasn't) in the year since graduation, I wondered if I was the only one among my group of friends with elaborate ideas of what my new life as a college graduate would be like. I had grand plans of living my life à la Sex and the City, with my own chic apartment in the city, a great job, mingling with celebs and the elite on weekends, sipping cosmos with my gal pals at some adorable bistro in downtown Boston, and dating Jacoby Ellsbury.
Oh, how wrong I was! Today, I'm working two jobs, spending 75% of my paycheck on bills, still living with my parents (did I just admit that?) and (GASP!) only going to the bar once a month.
But that's not to say I'm not happy. I do have two great jobs, great friends, a great guy, great parents who don't mind that their 20-something daughter is STILL living in the basement, and enough spare cash to do the things I enjoy. Granted, my life isn't as fabulous as I once pictured, but I'm very content.
I decided to do a quick survey of my friends (i.e., I messaged them on Facebook) to see what their expectations of post-college life had been, compared to where they found themselves now. Were they disappointed? Happy? Indifferent? These were the things I needed to know!
Apparently, I wasn't the only one who was a little disappointed with how things turned out. While my friends hadn't expected to be the next Carrie Bradshaw like I had, they did expect to be living slightly more adult lives:
- Most had been hoping to be on their own, have a modestly paying job, and work in a field that related directly to their degree.
- Some were happy that, despite not reaching the goals they'd planned out last year, they were still working and making good money and able to establish new goals.
- Others were disappointed they were still living the life of a college student; the only difference was they went to work instead of class.
- Almost everyone had expected to make more money than they were, even if it wasn't much more. Only one friend was making more than he expected.
What about the people graduating this year? If I was surprised by my '08 graduate friends' answers, I was floored by those who are graduating in '09. Maybe it's because of the economy, maybe they're just "glass half empty" types, but these new grads have no delusions—they expect to take months to find jobs and not make much money when they do.
One of my friends even went so far as to say that he saw himself "living in a cardboard box" in a year. Ouch.
If I had to give any advice to these soon-to-be graduates, it's that it's OK. It's OK to live with your parents. It's OK if you have to work part-time at McDonald's. It's OK to date Jacoby Ellsbury, decide you're not that into him, and give him my email address.
Good economy or bad, looking for a job and finding your way in life is difficult. You'll have good times, bad times, easy times, and hard times. That's just how life is. But if you work hard at reaching your goals, you will make them. Even if it takes till your five-year reunion.
If the Class of '09 (or anyone else) has any questions, feel free to post them below. Or, just leave a comment!
Prepare for Life after College with These Tips
Hey Grads! No Experience? No Problem! (Sort of)
Should I Put My GPA on My Resume?
Transitioning from Student to Professional: What They Don't Teach You in School