Graduating is both liberating and terrifying. For many, we have been in school longer than we can remember, and the feeling of knowing that you never have to go to school again unless you choose to is both amazing and very uncertain.
What is life like after graduation? What is the “real world” that we’ve heard so much about like? We reached out to CSU alumna Danika Barbour, a 2012 graduate with a double major in biomedical sciences and Spanish, and asked her how it felt for her to graduate.
“It felt different knowing there was a light at the end of the long tunnel,” Barbour said. “Knowing I wasn’t going back to school didn’t hit me until August when I would usually start classes again. There was relief, but I knew I was in for more schooling eventually.”
After graduation, Barbour said her main goal was to get into the medical field.
“I knew I wanted to be a medical professional, but I didn’t know what kind yet,” Barbour said. “I am currently in an RN [registered nurse] program, getting my Bachelor of Nursing. I had a minor in psychology [at CSU] that led me to applying within the mental health field. I got a job with Bellefaire Jewish Children’s Bureau, Monarch School for Autism.”
Setting and achieving goals, especially career-related goals, are especially hard in today’s society. Good jobs are hard to come by, and only 38 percent of new college graduates who started working in the past three years negotiated their job offers, according to a survey by NerdWallet, a personal finance website. So how did Barbour achieve her success in not only finding a job, but finding one in her career field?
“Truthfully, I drove around to see what facilities were around me, did a Google search, then researched the places I found before applying,” Barbour said. “It’s best to give an application in person. Working full-time was different, having to get up every day and do the same job was rough at first, but once you get used to 40 plus hours and your own routine, you get comfortable. Understanding who you are and what your strengths/weaknesses are will help you move into a position quickly.”
Although having a job is a definite perk, there is definitely more to life after graduation than the work force. We asked Barbour about where her journey after graduation had taken her outside of the career world.
“The best thing I’ve done since graduation, non-school related, would be getting married,” Barbour said. “[My husband and I] got an apartment once we moved to Ohio. It was comfortable, but we had to learn a new area. It seems to take about a year to get truly comfortable in either a job or housing situation. You think you know a lot after six months, but things really start to evolve at the year mark.”
Life in the real world doesn’t seem so scary, in fact, the way Barbour makes it seem, it’s comfortable and fun. Maybe the transition won’t be so rough after all, right? Just in case it is, we asked Barbour what surprised her about graduation.
“When I graduated, I didn’t realize how quickly you were required to be the ‘adult’ you were trying to grow up into,” Barbour said. “It was interesting having more responsibility with little supervision and expected to perform efficiently. You have to be independent immediately out of the gate.”
Graduation is a double-edged sword for many. It is full of freedom and the power to do your own thing, but with that power comes great responsibility, as Uncle Ben has taught us well.
However, as Barbour and our other successful graduates can tell you, no one has it figured out right out of the gate, and it will take some trial and error.
This article was produced for the 2015 Graduation Guide.