by Priya Kaur
As I was sitting at my own graduation commencement, about to receive my Master’s of Arts in Professional Counseling, so many thoughts about my future ran through my mind. I looked around to see that I was surrounded by familiar faces, some I knew well, and some I barely knew, and I wondered if similar thoughts were running through their minds.
Dr. Seuss once said, “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go…”
I remember hearing this quote at my high school graduation, my undergraduate graduation, and then once more at my graduate graduation. The underlying message from all three commencements was, I have the power to choose what direction my life will take.
I remember being terrified when I graduated with my Bachelor’s of Arts in Psychology. I didn’t know whether I’d find a job or not, if I’d love working with people or even if I’d be good at it. I always knew that working in the social service profession was a passion of mine, but if I succeeded or not, well, that was up to me.
Low and behold, I started working full-time while attending graduate school at night, and two-and-a-half years later, I graduated with my master’s degree in Professional Counseling.
I could go on and on about how I had mixed emotions about being in school and working full-time in the real world while blogging for the Pagin Pri section on Brown Girl; however, instead I’d like to offer some advice for those of you who just graduated with an undergraduate degree.
[Read Related: Paging Pri’s Answer to Twenty-Something’s Looking for Love]
1. First off, congratulations! Walk down the stage with style and pride because, you did it! It’s not easy balancing education, a social life, and even a job while trying to maintain a decent GPA. The fact that you’ve graduated shows that you have perseverance, which, in fact, is one of the biggest motivators to help you accomplish your career goals. Always try to remain motivated, in order to keep moving forward.
2. Live within your means. It’s always nice to get your first paycheck, and trust me, I know you want to buy that new Kate Spade tote for the summer, but if you can’t pay your bills, then you’re not off to a good start. Budgeting is the key to financial success. Now, I’m not a finance major, but I do have a serious shopping addiction. From experience, if I didn’t budget my money, I wouldn’t be able to support my addiction. Try perusing sites like Gilt, Poshmark, Overstock and Wayfair for great, low deals on brands you like!
3. As we are talking about finances, think about investing in a 401K or some sort of retirement plan, early on. It may seem trivial and pointless to begin investing at the age of 22, but if you want long-term stability, stashing a few dollars here and there, will definitely add padding to your retirement fund. Or, if you want to try something more “hip,” like Digit. A digital platform that aims at refreshing the interactions between humans and their money.
4. Surround yourself with people who you’d like to resemble. It’s often said, “you are who you hang out with,” well, my dears, choose wisely. You’ll begin to realize that time is a precious gift, and the less time you have, the more likely you are to spend it with certain people. As you grow older, your friend count may decrease and some friendships may go stale, but that will be the first time you will realize it’s not the quantity that matters, it’s quality.
5. Be careful what you post on social media. Social media has turned out to be more influential to hiring managers than a letter of recommendation. You may be a 4.0 graduate, but if you’re posting public pictures of “twerking” naked on a Friday night, employers may think your priorities aren’t managed. Privacy settings only keep things private to a certain degree, so, before you make the next foul move while intoxicated on social media, think, “if I don’t want my employer to see this, then I should not post it.”
6. Splurge on traveling and experiences, rather than materialistic possessions. Materials fade with time, however memories last forever. So, save up for that girls weekend to Napa Valley in California, escape for a romantic getaway with your boo to the nearest island, or sky dive over the Grand Canyons; whatever you do, just make sure it’s worth the adventure and lots of selfies. (Don’t hold back, buy a selfie stick, do it!)
7. Don’t settle. You’ll start to see some of your friends getting married, moving away to different cities, some stuck in the memories, and changing their careers. Whatever you do, don’t settle for those around you. Always stay true to your dream, because if you end up loving what you do, then it’s not really work. Very few people have the ability to wake up every day and say they love their jobs. Be one of the few!
8. If you choose to get a higher education, make sure you opt for a program that’s cost-efficient, time manageable and leads you to the right career path and better yet, a higher yielding salary. Do your due diligence before taking out the loan for another degree.
9. Keep an updated resume (especially on LinkedIn.com) at all times because you never know when an opportunity may come knocking. Order memorable business cards, complete an About.me page, register for a website to start your business or blog (Shoutout to our sponsor DotDesi—which allows you to create a website to promote your brand to the South Asian populace) and get your headshots done professionally.
10. Think before you act. We may still have that “I want to party” or “work hard, play harder” mindset, but we have to remember that as an adult, working in the real world, there are real-life consequences, some that include babies and bills. (Just kidding…no, but fo’ real, babies and bills.)
The best advice I can give to you, is to be a humble adult, respect yourself, and always think before you act. We can’t turn back time, but we can create a future that fits the lifestyle we imagine.
On behalf of all of us at Brown Girl, congratulations to all the 2015 graduates, you did it!
Feel free to send questions and concerns to our advice columnist and love guru, Paging Pri PagePri@0mq.349.myftpupload.com or leave us a comment below!