With the beginning of summer also comes the ending of chapters for one age group in particular — college. Often deemed “the best four years of your life,” college is a chance for independence, exploring, and the last opportunities to start your day at 11 a.m. After that? The real world. Adult life can strike hard and the unknown is scary for many, especially when it comes to a career. The truth? It’s going to be okay. Whether you’re a recent college graduate with your future planned out by the year, or unsure if your first job is right for you, life after graduation isn’t as scary as it seems. Don’t forget — those people who have careers you want, were at one point in your shoes too.
A few members of our Avionos A-Team have come together to answer some of your pressing questions — post grad myths, work-life balance, advice, and more.
It’s no surprise that college includes lots of time for fun, and the thought of a full-time job with more responsibilities leaves recent grads a bit anxious. According to Gibson Smith, Avionos Principal, work life balance is an “outdated” term. He shares, “it’s all about ‘life balance’ – work, leisure, spiritually, mentally, and physically. You need to create the time to focus on all aspects of your life. Working 80 hours is not a badge of honor (I know). It’s a drag. Prioritize and accomplish the tasks that are going to impact the business the most and become a subject matter expert in those. Most of the other stuff that creates roadblocks are fluff. Try not to fix, manage and control everything. If all your tasks look like a nail, the only tool you have is a hammer. Be happy. That’s what matters the most.”
Figuring out what your life balance looks like may take time, but thinking you won’t be able to achieve it is a post-grad myth. Another myth? “That you’re done studying,” shares Challin Meink, director of marketing, who recently wrote about her own career advice to herself 10 years ago. She adds, “because no matter what role you end up in, what size company, or what industry, you will absolutely have to continue learning. Hopefully, you pick a space that intrigues you, because it can be really exciting. In my position as a marketer, I’m constantly keeping up with the latest media, marketing tactics, and technology trends. If I don’t know what’s going on in the market, my company can’t win.”
What About My Major?
College is a great opportunity to explore your options, but at the end of the day, you still have to pinpoint a major. For many, that major may not really be the end industry goal — things happen! Does that mean you’re locked in? Caitlin Danforth, digital marketing specialist, disagrees. “I graduated from Eastern Illinois as an English major with a creative writing focus, and I originally thought I would go to grad school for children’s literature and library science. But as I started building up experience in the workforce, I realized I really enjoy marketing because it’s a combination of storytelling and analytics. While I didn’t think that I’d end up working in the business world, I like that I can continue to tell compelling brand stories — and I still get to write every day!”
Advice for New Grads
And of course, no college graduate can have too much wisdom when entering their post-grad life. Deep breaths — you’ve got this!
“Have a game plan. Target the cities you want to work in, the companies you want to work for, and the role you want to land. Attend all networking events and career fairs. Be prepared and if you can show up with any advanced knowledge that impacts the business (certifications) invest your time in making that happen. It creates an instant competitive advantage.” – Gibson Smith
“You are not locked into what you studied in college. Think broadly about your job applications and career track. Pursue jobs in fields you’re interested in, rather than fields you may be funneled to. And never stop actively learning! Picking up new skills — coding, web design, business writing, etc — can open doors later in your career.” – Caitlin Danforth
“Put in the legwork. Be flexible. Know your worth. Don’t burn bridges.” – Challin Meink