Where Do I Go From Here: Taking the Next Steps After CollegeApril 28, 2021
Wondering what you’re going to do after college graduation has plagued many young adults for decades. And even though college is supposed to be a time of self-exploration and growth and discovery, it can feel like there’s always a pressure to determine your next steps to guarantee the best possible future for yourself.
For many young adults they’ve followed the expected path since birth, they’ve gotten good grades, studied hard, graduated high school, enrolled in a good college, and are expecting the payout they’ve been promised: a good career and successful life. However, many college grads leave college feeling like they haven’t been provided the necessary tools to make the transition into adulthood.
In order to help ease the transition from college to career and adulthood, there are many steps you can take to help you feel more prepared for this next phase of life.
Tips for next steps in your career after college
When looking at your next steps after college, the first step is starting early. Most colleges have career services centers that are staffed with advisors to help you through your questions and uncertainties, and many of these centers are operating remotely, so you can still get the help you need even during the pandemic. Many students wait to take advantage of these services until later in their college career, but the sooner you can start utilizing these services, the better.
Many jobs do their hiring in the fall, so if you wait until right before graduation to start using these services you could miss out on myriad career opportunities. There are also a large number of internships and fellowships available through these programs that are only available to current students, so waiting until after graduation could also result in missing out on some of these resume-building experiences. In addition to these significant work experiences, starting early also allows you to meander your passions and decide if you may be interested in working in a field outside of what you have studied during your undergraduate education.
Another important tip during this period is to examine and study yourself. Use this time to take stock of who you are and what matters to you. To help get you started, consider reading “Designing Your Life” by Dave Evans, a book that helps you answer big life questions like, “How do I know what I want to do with my life?” He suggests keeping what’s called a ‘good time journal’, where you document all your daily activities and annotate your engagement level and energy level with all these activities. This journal can serve as empirical evidence on yourself about what you enjoy, what drains you, and what types of activities you need to cut down on because they don’t bring you joy.
Once you have a sense of you, it’s time to turn outward to find out which opportunities are best for you, and it’s important to really do your homework and research during this phase because your career will ultimately end up being where you spend a lot of your time. Starting with a simple internet search will help you see what jobs are currently available in your interest fields. After you’ve gathered information, go out and try on some of these work experiences. One recommendation is to create a ‘try stuff list’ which can take many forms such as a job shadowing, attending a lecture, or using class assignments to further your interest in something in the outside world.
When you find job or internship opportunities and are preparing applications, be sure to tell your own story. The first part of this is finding a spin on your story, which involves translating what you’ve done and who you are for others. You can do this with almost any work experience you’ve had. For example, if you’ve had a job answering phones, you can translate this into having experience deescalating situations and working together with colleagues to solve difficult problems. The second part of this is creating a living resume that is clean, easy to understand, and revisable for any job opportunity that might come up. While creating these job documents, it can also help to create an elevator pitch, which is essentially a short speech about who you are and what you want to do. An elevator pitch should include an introduction of you who are, what your history and experience is, and your goals for the future.
Deciding on a lifelong career can be extremely intimidating, so engage in several informational interviews. These are conversations where you can gather information on specific jobs from people who are in those fields. This can help you figure out what these jobs are actually like on a daily basis and whether or not you would want to do them. In order to gather the most information, include a question at the end of the conversation of, “Who should I talk to next?”. The more people you can discuss this career with, the fuller picture you will have of what that career looks like.
To be prepared to engage with potential employers, study up on business etiquette. An easy first step is to create a more professional email address, so say goodbye to firstname.lastname@example.org, and opt for one that includes your full name. It’s also important to take the time to start curating your social media presence as potential employers often check your digital footprint. Even with all these tips, starting a career can be overwhelming and enrolling in a transitional program can help provide the direction you need to move forward.
Why a transitional program after college can be a good choice
Some young adults may not feel fully prepared to enter the job market upon graduating college, and for these individuals, a transitional program can help them realign goals, continue discovering what careers may work best for them, and emerge with newfound confidence in themselves.
There are several benefits to taking a gap period between college and the workforce. The first is that it allows individuals a break from academia. After four years of working hard to excel in college academics, exhaustion is likely and the prospect of more school or entering into a full time profession can be overwhelming. Avoiding the risk of burnout, transition programs offer a chance to step away from the hurried pace of life and reconnect with what matters most to you. Taking some time off can help you halt the ‘conveyor belt mindset’ and allow time for deliberate reflection and deliberate actions for the next steps in life. Another benefit to transitional programs is that they can help young adults prepare important grad school or work application materials such as resumes and CV’s.
A transitional program can also provide individuals with the opportunity to expand their life experiences. Programs like Trails Momentum allow clients to travel outside their normal environments, engage in life-changing adventure and therapy experiences, as well as give back to communities through volunteer experiences.
If you’re struggling to define what the next steps of your life will look like post college, Trails Momentum can help ease the transition, help you reconnect with yourself, and help you emerge with new focus and direction.
Trails Momentum can help with the transition
Trails Momentum is an adventure-based wilderness therapy program that offers 18-25 year olds a pathway to successfully transition into adulthood. We provide the people, place, and experiences that allow young adults to gain insight, practice healthy independence, realign goals, and learn new tools needed for adulthood.
We offer exciting adventure programming, comprehensive clinical services, engaging academic seminars and social interactions with peers to create life-changing opportunities.
Trails Momentum was created to serve young adults with anxiety, depression, technological dependence, and other issues by helping them transition to independence, increase confidence, and find new direction. We help our students acquire new skills that will help them achieve success academically, in their personal relationships, and in other areas of life. Along the way they’ll learn to engage with their environment, strengthen their sense of self, and set new goals for themselves.
Each week our students spend three to four days at our base camp in Sky Valley and three to four days at off-campus wilderness adventure excursions. While at base camp students engage in a variety of activities including academic work, yoga, individualized therapy, service learning, culinary classes, gardening, and personal fitness. Days at base camp also include adventure components such as day hikes in DuPont forest, mountain biking, paddleboarding, canoeing, and survival skills classes.
During the wilderness portion of the week, students are typically camping. Days may also include hiking, rock climbing, and challenge courses. This escape to nature offers our students the opportunity to reconnect and discover themselves in a way that can’t happen in our modern and distracted lives, and it provides clarity for their next steps in life. For more information, please call (828) 457-8576.