I can’t believe it’s been ONE YEAR since I graduated from college. This one year has been a whirlwind of emotions and a rollercoaster that took me up and down several times. Trust me when I say I was not expecting this past year to be like this; I would never have expected that I end up here. To all the newly college grads or soon-to-be college grads, listen up. Let me explain how my “plan” didn’t turn out the way it was supposed to work out. And by no means am I a person to give wise advice. I’m one year out of college and still trying to figure out this “adult” thing. But here’s my story, and my experience, and hopefully you can learn from me, a 22-year-old gal with a college degree.
Where I started…
I started my first year at Virginia Tech in the fall of 2015. I came in as a Communications major and quickly changed to Public Relations (like, two days in — they’re not that different, just PR is more specific). However, two months later, I decided I loved writing (and editing) so I joined Odyssey at Virginia Tech. Best decision of my life! Not to be dramatic, but that moment changed my life. Since that moment, I knew that being an editor was a passion of mine.
But I was still a PR major and I was still holding onto my dream of working in a fancy PR firm that represented all the big, mega country artists and that I would live in Nashville. I know, pipe dream. So I planned out my next four years. Then, summer of my sophomore year rolled around and I was looking for an internship. So, I drew up a (somewhat) connection and landed an interview at PR firm in Nashville (crazy!!!). However, I didn’t get it. Lack of experience.
I had a few more interviews, and finally landed a summer internship with an event planning and marketing firm in Blacksburg. I was living in Blacksburg, VA for the summer. Not that fancy, but it was valuable experience and I LOVED it. Then the start of my junior year rolled around. Two weeks into my junior year, I found out that I had the opportunity to graduate that coming May. I took the leap of faith and pledged to graduate in May 2018, a whole year earlier than expected — and skipping my junior year and going straight to my senior year. I did it.
Looking back, I should have gone an extra semester to gain more internship experience, but overall I had no regrets. I was afraid, terrified, and very nervous of graduating from college, but I was “eager to get out into the workforce” (is what I told myself every day that year). Needless to say, I was not emotionally ready for the real world.
I graduated in May 2018 from Virginia Tech with a bachelor’s degree in Public Relations. I graduated in three years, Lord knows how. I worked my butt off and still managed to have fun and gain experience in my field. I made awesome friends and amazing memories.
However, I knew something was missing. Oh, right. A job. I graduated with a degree with no job and no plan. I thought I wanted to work in PR, so I was applying to jobs in PR, marketing, and even advertising. Unfortunately, no one wanted to hire me. I got interviews, but no luck in securing the job. I was a 22-year-old living back home. What was a girl to do? I got part-time jobs, working as a substitute at a local elementary school, a barista (never again) and eventually, an internship. Yep, ya girl scored an internship. However……..that internship didn’t work out. It taught me valuable work experience, skills in my field like marketing, PR, social media, advertising…but something inside of me kept tugging at me and saying “this isn’t what you’re supposed to be doing.”
I wasn’t sure what I was doing. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do anymore. Which was crazy, because I had a bachelor’s degree in Public Relations telling me to work in Communications, marketing, PR…but my heart was saying no. I was lost. I was lost, after college. During college, most people will tell you that they “found themselves” or “found their passion.” It was coming up on the new year (2019), it was months after graduation, and I was lost and missing a passion. I was embarrassed that I was a recent college graduate and had no job and no five-year plan. I was disappointed in myself that I had strayed from my plan. Wanna know what pulled me out of that funk I was in? It was not a what, but a WHO.
Yep, that’s right. You should’ve known this would been about God. Because I owe everything to Him. He’s the reason I’m here; He’s the reason I have the things that I have.
I gave my life to Him. I laid out everything in front of Him and I started seeing Him in everything. (Yes, that’s a cheesy Pinterest quote.) That IS a “cheesy” and “basic” Pinterest quote, but it means so much more than just a motivational quote. I sat down on my blue carpet, opened my Bible, and started praying to Him. But this wasn’t any ordinary prayer. I was bawling. It was 11 p.m. (past my bedtime!) and I just prayed. I shut my eyes and wiped away every thought, fear, anxiety, worry that I had and just laid it out to Him. I devoted my life to God. When you start devoting your life to Him, and laying out all your worries, troubles, fears, and doubts to Him, you start seeing Him in everything. I did that. And wanna know what happened?
2019 became my year.
Starting with the grand removal of my wisdom teeth, I started to apply to more jobs that suited my skills and that would make ME happy. Since I had a blog that I had been keeping up (and actually writing content I enjoyed) and loved my experience with Odyssey, I started to apply for more jobs in editorial. I landed a couple of interviews in cities I loved, and got a job offer! I’m actually in a job now where I get to better my skills as a writer and editor, and get to keep my values as a Christian in the workplace. Not only that, I’m in a city that I love and moving ahead with my life.
But I will never forget the true reason why I’m here and who got me here: my Creator. He got me here, on his own terms and not by my “five-year plan.” He teaches me patience every single day. When I want to “speed up” my plan, He teaches me to slow down, take a deep breath, and bask in His presence.
Advice for recent grads
Do you think there are some days where I just want to crawl under the covers and cry my eyes out? Do you think there are some days where I just want to scream at the sky and yell “why God, why?” Do you think there are some days where I think that I’m just a big fake and that I’m not good enough? Yes to all three of these questions. Let me just say, anxiety doesn’t leave when you get handed that college degree, my friends. In my case, it gets even worse. But you’re in your twenties. You’re not meant to have life “figured out.” In fact, this is the time to figure all that stuff out and even if you don’t, at least pretend to. Because even if you do have life “figured out” and you do have this five-year plan, don’t let that dictate your every waking moment of your life.
Stray from the plan. Do something crazy. Start a side hustle. Whatever it is, just do it. “Doing something crazy” shouldn’t just stop when you graduate from college. Do what sets your soul on fire. I’m not saying quit your new 9-5 job and backpack across Europe (although that’s certainly an option for some), but this is your time. College was a place where you can “find yourself” or whatever…but your twenties is a place where you can make mistakes, discover what you like and don’t like, and really find out what it means to be “on your own” (because college, most of us were in some ways dependent on our parents). And honey, stop worrying about where you’ll be five years from now. Focus on the present. Focus on honing your skills, your talents, what you love to do, and most importantly, your relationship with God. With Him, anything is possible. Admire His beauty.
So friends, whether you have a job after college or don’t, don’t beat yourself up. If you have a job, don’t let that job take every bits and pieces away from you. Enjoy your twenties, have fun, and travel. Meet new people, open yourself up to a world of new possibilities.
And YOU, my friend…if you’re unemployed after graduation, do not worry. The right job will come. Dare I say it — I’m probably the hundredth person to say this — be patient. Go after what sets your soul on fire. You will find your dream job. Be patient because that “dream job” is out there, waiting to be filled by you. Life’s a climb.
And if you just skimmed this blog post to the bottom, then know this: you are enough. No matter what your plans are post-grad, you will do amazing things. If you have a job, great. If you don’t have any plans, then be patient. Your time will come. Instead, thrive in the fact that you have a Creator who loves you and wants you to be patient. You just graduated from college. Enjoy this moment with your friends and family.