“Work hard, play hard,” they said, so I did. I became the first of my family to graduate from a university. I set a goal, followed the steps, and reached the finish line.
If you come from a traditional Latino family, whose parents had little to no education, you understand the value of earning a diploma. For many of us, education is the only way out; it’s our herencia. Thanks to our parents and our professors, we’re able to overcome any barriers, “[earning our] way into spaces not meant for [us]” ("Dear Woke Brown Girl"). As encouragement, they tell us it’ll feel great when we accomplish something we’ve earned, but nobody tells us how hard it will be to move along, to let lose any ties we have to the past.
I’ve been an alumna for a month, and I’ve experienced plenty of moments in which I wish I would’ve stayed in college longer. But I’ve also learned that achieving a goal can be as rewarding as it they say.
Here are three tips on how to make something of the awkward gap between graduating and starting your career:
You worked hard to earn what you did, so celebrate yourself and everybody that contributed. Reward yourself with a graduation gift, like getting on a plane and traveling to Central America or catching up on the sleep you lost studying for finals. Sometimes college students forget to take care of themselves because they’re so wrapped up in school work. Guess what? You’re alumni; you don’t have homework anymore!
Whether you’re experiencing withdrawals because you don’t yet have a job or because you have a job and hate it, this time is yours. You’ve accomplished what you set your mind to, but that doesn’t mean you stop learning. Kate Lopaze, author of “How to Get Started in Your Career After Graduating College” said, “Only you can set yourself on a career path that means something to you and includes work that you find important and fulfilling. Now is the time to make the choices that will determine how much you love your work.” Consider grad schools if you want to further your education or checkout job postings in a new location. Push yourself out of your comfort zone and do something you’ve always wanted to; you’ve got nothing to lose.
Go back to square one.
Now that you’re well-rested and have found what you want to do next, get up and do it. Start over by setting one or two goals and work towards them; the finish line is calling your name! Life doesn’t stop for anybody, so take advantage of the present. Whether this allows you to find something you want to do for the rest of your life or something you absolutely cannot stand, you’ll grow from it.
Your post-graduation life might not be like anything you experienced in college, but it can be made up of the best years of your life. Your free-time is no longer limited to the two-hour gap between classes, so decide what you want to do next and run with it. Greater things are yet to come, and you want to be prepared. Adulting is hard, but nobody said you should have it all together.