Graduation is right around the corner. Soon, the class of 2015 will be gliding across a stage, receiving their hard-earned diplomas, and hearing camera-happy parents yell “smile with your teeth!” as they’re captured in a moment of accomplishment in what looks like a formal Snuggie. If this describes you, congratulations! You have reason to celebrate. After all, it takes a great deal of drive to pore over books, pen research papers, and take tests after having been upside down guzzling beer from a tube a mere few hours prior. But after 4 (or 5) years of #workhardplayhard existence, what happens after the graduation cake goes stale and reality sets in?
You’re about to face some scary stuff: bills, taxes, leases, loan payments, and (gasp!) work days that require you to wake up before noon. Before you decide to fail a class so you can hold on for a liiiittle bit longer, we’re going to give you some insider secrets about life after graduation so you can thrive in this new chapter.
1. Despite being able to critically dissect Gramsci’s theory of hegemony, the only job you are likely qualified for is labeling folders.
All of those long nights you spent writing/bullshitting essays in the library weren’t for naught, but they also aren’t likely to land you a job as a top executive (at least not right away). Don’t be too proud to fetch coffee/alphabetize files/remind your grown boss he/she has a wedding anniversary today, and by the way, you picked out the perfect gift. Everyone has to start somewhere–even people who can recite Proust at the drop of a hat. The important thing is to show you a positive attitude and eagerness (without making it seem like you could give a diagnosis of your boss’s colon because you’re so far up their ass). A willingness to pitch in where help is needed will separate you from the herd of interns checking Instagram every 3 minutes.
2. Upon seeing you, every family member will morph into a Parole Officer in Charge of Your Life Progress, asking personal questions about your job search and whether you finally did that thing you said you were going to do.
Everyone in your family remembers what it was like to be a terrified graduate, so their advice comes from a place of good intention. They don’t mean to make conversations feel like progress check-ups mandated by courts of law, but they’ll definitely put in their two cents about how you should be living your life. Sometimes your family’s career advice is valid, sometimes it’ll need to to be taken with a grain of salt, and other times you can deftly evade the situation by changing the subject to a topic of political contention, like universal health care! That’ll take the heat off in no time.
3. You’ll save the napkins and plastic utensils you receive from take-out orders to create a complete dining ware collection.
Bad news: you can’t take the bed from your dorm room with you, and the real world features no dining hall with soft serve dispensers accessible with the swipe of a card. Actually, it does, and it’s called Yogurtland, but that ish costs money! Even worse, student loans don’t pay themselves…and your parents are suddenly like “kthnx, you’re on your own!” You’ll have to scrimp and save, but there’s no shame in this. Maybe invest in a set of real silverware, though. You’ll still use it to eat Hot Pockets at 2 am, but it’ll make you feel like you’ve made some strides towards adulthood.
4. You won’t buy furniture—you’ll accrue random discards from your parents and Craigslist until you’re 26 and sick of your apartment looking like a storage unit.
Garage sales will be your new favorite “boutiques.” Thrift store double coupon day will feel like Christmas. And, like a cat who knows to stalk the alleyways of Chinese restaurants for thrown out scraps, you’ll learn to monitor streets for discarded furniture, paying no thought to that scary stain no one can seem identify. But not having to fret over what backsplash matches the floor is actually a good thing at this time in your life. Embrace the principles of Fight Club and enjoy the freedom that comes with NOT having a ton of material possessions weighing you down. Also, enjoy the feeling of comfort and familiarity that you experience at all of your friends’ apartments…because you all have the same Ikea furniture.
5. Having a job you hate is worse torture than any Bond villain could conjure, so find something you actually enjoy.
You know how hard it was to stay awake during that boring 3 hour lecture on you had to take to graduate? Try doing that more than twice every day, 5 times a week. For years. It’s hard to look for work, and it’s even harder to look for work that aligns with who you are and what you care about. But it IS possible, and it IS worthwhile (And it IS necessary, because your video game addiction won’t pay for itself!). We know that challenge sounds daunting, but we wrote a book to help you figure it out how to pay the bills with something you actually enjoy doing. Check it out: theonlybookyouneed.com.