So in our last installment, we candidly discussed a few things that graduating Greeks might need to know before they step out into the “Real World.” Grad chapter guilt, Greekdom beef, the fear of lacking work experience, unresponsive lb’s and ls’, you know…the norm. Just kidding. No, but really, we did touch on those important topics. And now, we’re going to hit five more topics that will help you moon walk into the professional world with a little more confidence.
5. Join the Club
I used to roll my eyes every time my mother insisted college was not like the “Real World”. In some instances, I held my own and proved her wrong. At other times, I had to accept defeat. In the case of clubs, we both put a point on our score boards. In college, we are free to join or create student organizations that cater to our hobbies as well as our professions. They prepared us with the skill sets, knowledge, and connections we needed to hone in on our passions and execute them in a way that could make us happy and make us bank. (Hopefully).
Fortunately, those same kind of organizations exists post-college. If you belong to a professional association, see if your collegiate chapter has a professional chapter in the city you’ll be living in after graduation. Get in contact with the membership coordinator and introduce yourself. This will give you a shoe-in when it comes to finding out about job prospects, networking opportunities and professional development workshops. If you don’t belong to a professional association, or one doesn’t exist in your town, browse through Meetup. Meetup allows you to have mingle with people who have the same career and personal interests as you. This is greatly helpful for graduates moving to new cities on their own. It makes networking a little less intimidating. It’s also good to note that joining clubs allow you to keep your skills sharp, your knowledge database updated, and your passion fresh and renewed.
4. Be a Proactive Prospect
If you’re experiencing sluggish responses from potential employers, don’t be afraid to delve in and create your own projects. Depending on the flexibility of your time, find a block in your day where you can do something that will uniquely make you stand out from the crowd. Create a portfolio of your work. Update your email signature with a link to your cool Linkedin page. CREATE & UPDATE your Linkedin page. Join professional Linkedin groups and post relevant articles to show that you’re up to date on the latest and greatest in your industry. Start a blog about trends or observations in your field. If possible, do freelance work while you’re holding down a temporary part time. Volunteer during the week to break the monotony of job searching (if you can afford to do so). Attend networking events; skip the drinking. Those drinks add up, your focus is to get hired. Utilize your college’s Career Center. They will help you look for jobs for years to come. Revamp your resume to make it stand out. Create a “follow up” outline so you know when you sent your information, who you talked to, when you called, and what his/her name was. Attend professional workshops. Even though you just got out of school, take free classes that align with your industry. These are a few of the many things you can do to keep yourself from going stir crazy, and helps you build a distinct foundation that will make you shine brighter than your graduating peers.
3. Find a Positive Professional Prophyte
During and post “process”, some of our prophytes served as mentors while we were in school. Some of them still help guide us through difficult times. It is just as pertinent to have a professional mentor as it is to have a helpful prophyte. If you join a grad chapter, ask around and find out if any of your frat brothers or sorors are in your industry. If so, ask if they can mentor you, or at least shadow them for a few days. If you don’t want to go that route, seek out mentorship in your local professional associations or Meetup groups. If you’re not quite up to mixing and mingling yet, find two or three pubic figures in your field that you admire and learn about their story. It could be someone from history or someone making history now. This is something I do on a regular. I love learning about professionals in my industry and how they got started. I look up Youtube videos and watch lectures. I read news articles, essays and books. In doing so, I realize 1) in some ways, we’ve had similar struggles 2) we can always prevail above those struggles. Keeping a mentor in your life helps you keep things in perspective and allows you to think more critically when it comes to mapping out your future.
2. Don’t Take No For an Answer
Every year, the media does an evaluation of which degrees are valuable and which ones are worthless. I am a staunch believer that this is B.S. If you don’t remember anything else I’ve said in this series, remember this: your degree is as valuable as you make it. You just spent x number of years sacrificing your blood, sweat, and tears into this degree. Don’t let anyone tell you it was a waste of time and money. You make it work. You get creative. You make the most out of the opportunities given to you or you create your own. You were smart enough to get into college. You were smart enough to graduate. You are smart enough to prove the naysayers wrong. You are valuable and what you contribute to the world will be amazing. Don’t let anyone else tell you otherwise.
1. You Gon Be Alright!
(Cue Kendrick Lamar’s “Alright”) The last and most important thing you need to remember is that….WE GON BE ALRIGHT! DO YOU HEAR ME, DO YOU FEEL ME, WE GON BE ALRIGHT!
In all seriousness, one of the common misconceptions that graduates have is that they have to have everything figured out right after they cross that stage. Bruh, no. No…that’s not how it works. A wise woman once told me, “There’s never a time where we truly become adults. We’re all playing the part and winging it along the way.” You’re young. You’re entering the next step in your life and it’s scary. It’s okay to be confused. It’s okay to make mistakes. You’re going to make missteps. At times, you might think the projected life plan for yourself has fallen a few steps behind. But it’s okay. Each day presents a new chance to get it right. To refocus. To reevaluate and rethink. To reaffirm that you are indeed going to be a success. You know why? Because you have it in you to go the distance. Your test will be come testimonies. Your sobs will become success stories. You have everything you need inside of you to make it. You are the product of Invictus. You derive from a divine legacy of inspiring founders. And you are a child of the most High God who will always look out for you. Remember this verse if you ever feel discouraged, worried or anxious:
Matthew 6: 25-34
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?[a] 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
If you ever feel the spirit of worry, anxiety, or doubt coming on, just know God has destined you for greatness. And his plan and promises have to come to pass, you hear me?! So go forth and prosper. I can’t wait to see what the Lord has in store for you. And in turn, what you have in store for the world. Congratulations everyone. I’m so very proud of you.