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Congratulations, Graduate! Now What?

SPRING HAS SPRUNG

May is one of my favorite times of year, especially here in Maryland. The weather is at its absolute best; there are tons of things to do outside (i.e. festivals, boating, baseball games). Schools are hosting their proms and college grads are gearing up to jump into the real world for the first time. The energy is contagious and I love it.

I can’t help but think of how I felt as a college graduate back in 2008. I was excited, nervous, scared and eager to figure out my life all at the same time. I didn’t know exactly what that life was going to look like but I was excited to figure it out.

FUTURE ENTREPRENEURS OF AMERICA

My business partner and I recently spoke to a group of students at our Alma Mater Towson University about the series of steps and events that led to us running our own business. They students were so interested in what led to what and many of them were also interested in becoming entrepreneurs.

The truth is when I graduated from college I didn’t really know what I wanted to do. I knew I loved people, planning events, marketing and sales. I knew I wanted a position or job that I was proud of. But how was I going to accomplish that?

University does a great job preparing us for the real world for the most part. We learn the educational and social skills required to get out there and function as adults. What University does not prepare us for is life because life is uncertain and unpredictable. We control our own destiny for the most part and I wish someone had told me that you don’t need your 5, 10, 20, 30-year plan locked down as soon as you were handed that diploma.

Here are some things I wish someone had shared with me as a newly graduated college student.

1. COME UP WITH A PLAN, BUT UNDERSTAND IT WILL CHANGE…A LOT

It’s important to set goals for yourself as soon as you graduate from University. There isn’t a right or wrong thing to do when you are fresh member of the real world, but it’s good to try a few things and see what you like.

When I graduated I made the decision to move back home for the summer, work in a restaurant and save as much money as I could. Once the summer ended I knew it was time to find a job, so that’s what I did.

2. BE YOU

The world is filled with so many different personalities, which makes it so great. In order to find a job or opportunity that is in line with your passion, you have to be yourself or it won’t work. I witness too many young adults trying to be someone they’re not because someone else said so. As an entrepreneur, I’ve learned that being different and standing out from the rest is what makes you awesome. Focus on what truly makes you happy and the rest will fall into place.

3. FIRST JOB = EXPERIENCE

I was so naïve when I first graduated. I thought I would get a really cool job in the events industry somewhere in the city, have my own office and be able to jet set around World. When this didn’t happen, I have to say I was a little bummed. I landed a job in sales, in the city, had a cube and a very strict 9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. schedule.

It wasn’t the most glamorous job in the world, but it gave me the most amazing real-life corporate work experience and helped shape the work ethic I have today.

If you’re lucky enough to land your dream job straight out of college, good for you! For the rest of you, use your first job experience as a tool to learn best practices in business and try to have fun during the process.

4. IT’S A MARATHON NOT A RACE

Success doesn’t happen overnight; at least not for all of us. It takes a lot of blood sweat and tears to become a master at something. And even when we become masters at something, we’re always looking for ways to improve.

Being successful at what you do in life will take a lot of commitment and focus on your part. Don’t get frustrated if you aren’t exactly where you are “supposed” to be at age 23. Don’t put a timeline on yourself. I remember I used to think I would be married with kids by age 26, and that sure didn’t happen. Instead, I’m having the time of my life building a business that I love, working with a business partner who is amazing and meeting some of the coolest people I’ve ever met throughout the process.

If you work hard and are passionate about what you do, you will get there. Don’t stress.

5. BE PASSIONATE WITH EVERYTHING YOU DO

 They say the average person will spend 30% (much more for entrepreneurs J) of their life working. So if that’s the case make sure you LOVE what you do. Too many people go through life unhappy with choices they make surrounding work and I never understood why. There are tons of different opportunities for work out there, be sure to find one that suits you and brings out your passion.

 No one wants to work with or have someone work for them who is a Debbie-Downer. Embrace opportunities and turn your work into your passion. Results will always be positive and you will be happier overall.

 I hope these bits of advice serves as some help to all you graduates. You should be proud of what you have accomplished thus far and excited about the next part of your journey you’re about to embark on. Always go through life with an open mind and heart.