It is easy for us to get to a point in life where we get lost in the moment and forget to take a look at what comes next. We are especially vulnerable for this in college, at a time when we are in-between our youth and real adulthood. After finishing college, we tend to think that we've done all we can to get ready for the real world. We went to school, we got the grades, we talked to our parents, advisors, friends and everyone we could think of about the unknown abyss that lies ahead (AKA adulthood and a real job). But are grades really all it takes to be successful outside of school? Are we really ready? These tips are focused on preparing ourselves for the real world and are great for anyone in or out of college - it is never too late to set ourselves up for success!
Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.
If I could bold, underline and put flashing lights all around this one, I would. Do something you thought you would never do or that you don't particularly want to do, because I can almost guarantee it will be worth it in the end. Become the "yes" guy. If you get invited to a networking event, go. Go despite the fact that you may feel awkward or vulnerable, remind yourself that other people will feel the same way and why miss out on an opportunity to better your future because you felt out of place? If someone asks if you want to catch up and get coffee but you would rather watch Netflix in bed, go. What if this person turns out to be the CEO of Netflix down the line? Even though the chances are slim, it is so important to keep in contact with people and have a networking circle to help support you (and vise versa) in your career. We grow and we learn when we are uncomfortable; keep pushing your boundaries and you will become familiar with handling new experiences and changes.
Interview for the job you don't want. There are going to be many job opportunities that come your way, especially if you are active on LinkedIn, and there's a good chance that you are not going to be interested in every single one. Start by interviewing for some of them anyway. Since you don't want the job, what do you have to lose? It gives you good interviewing experience while opening perspectives on different types of jobs and industries. Before I started my job hunt, I interviewed for 5 or 6 different positions before finding the perfect post-grad job. Remember that you are interviewing the employer as much as they are interviewing you.
Put yourself out there. We are the generation where social media has a huge impact on our wants and desires. More than ever, millennials want to quit their jobs and travel the world and this is because we see others who are successful at it all over the Internet. I say, go ahead and do it. Put your worries aside - so what if it doesn't work out? Buy a plane ticket home and learn from your mistakes. Want to pack everything up and move across the country to New York City? I'm living proof that it's possible! At least you can say you had it in you to put yourself out there in the world and do something others are too scared to do. Turn it into a learning lesson. You must constantly push yourself to change the meaning of comfort, let yourself willingly transform into your new self with each learning experience that comes with pushing the boundaries of your comfort level.
Stop what you're doing and go out there and buy yourself a calendar (do I need to tell you twice?!). It needs to be something that you look at every day or something with settings that can remind you of events. Starting this habit in college will help with your organizational skills in the future - whether it be your schedule, your desk or finally getting around to cleaning your room. When entering the real world of independence, your mom or professor will no longer be there to remind you of the important things on your schedule. Whether it be your project deadline or your next dental appointment - you will feel better knowing that even if it slips your mind, something will be there to catch your mistakes. You can use your desk calendar to help you plan for the upcoming week. By taking some time to briefly look over your calendar, you can note on how to be prepared for the next week's events. Time management gives you the free time to fit everything you can into your schedule: from a quick post-work happy hour before heading to your cycling class to impressing your friends knowing if you'll be free on a particular day.
Don't be afraid to ask for help.
Having a mentor is critical during college and in all aspects of life. In college, this person can be an advisor, a professor, a leader at your internship, a family friend or one of each! As your ideals and career changes, so may your mentors. I've been lucky to have a few great leaders through my career path so far - my school advisor at the University of Arizona was valuable in helping me get an internship and in figuring out my credits so I could graduate on time while taking a semester off to intern at Walt Disney World. He genuinely cared about my career interests and gave me insight to get on a path towards what I wanted. My boss at my first job was another great mentor, she saw the drive in me and helped me network around the entire company. Always utilize the people that want to help you and see you succeed!
Taking the first step to find a mentor can be intimidating, but it can also be as simple as an email. During my senior year of college, there was a "famous" professor on campus known for having one of the best economics classes. My roommate and I really wanted to get some one-on-one time with him to talk about life after college. I finally "grew a pair" and sent him an email essentially asking him out for coffee. He was more than happy to schedule something and we all grabbed a beer and some food at our local pizza place. It was hard to initially "make the first move", but proved to be worth it in the end to hear some great insight from someone who was intelligent, knew how to be successful and who wanted to help his students! Being the one to initiate conversations is extremely important in a career because these are the people who will help you grow, who will help you find jobs, and who will think of you when they have an extra ticket to a networking or dinner event. Always keep in mind that just because you are reading someone's status updates, does not mean you are connected. In order to truly stay connected with your network you need to reach out, have a conversation and make the effort to meet in person.
Chances are, if you go to a larger university, there are great things included with your tuition that you have no idea about. My college, University of Arizona, offers Career Services which I found to be helpful in preparing for interviews and writing cover letters. Throughout my senior year of college, I spent a lot of time perfecting my cover letter and resume. The Career Services Center was there to critique my drafts until they were perfect and, in the process, I learned how to become comfortable with editing and perfecting them on my own. Even if you have graduated college, it's not too late to find help. There are plenty of resources. A quick Google search brought up multiple places in New York City that could help me prepare for a job or better my resume. Check your local library, they may have workshops available. If you want to be successful and land your dream job, you must put in the effort to get there.
Make good use of your free time.
This one is simple. Remind yourself to have fun. Travel the world. Party with your college friends. Volunteer for your favorite cause. Make time to make a difference, even if just for an hour a week. You have the same amount of time in a day as Beyoncé, Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates - make it count.
True success and fulfillment comes to those who put in the effort to get there. By learning how to organize yourself, use your resources, handle uncomfortable situations and use your time wisely, you can set yourself up for success in the future. The earlier you start, the better, but it is never too late to do so! Only you can steer yourself in the right direction, and learning how to take the steps to get there will simplify the process.