When Kerri Crawford graduated with a college degree in Child and Family Studies, she planned to find a job with a minimum salary of $30,000 working with adolescent girls.
“I had some pretty grand ideas about how things would go after I graduated,” said Crawford. “It was much harder finding a job than I thought it would be, and the salary was not close to what I expected. My friends and I have joked that you should add a few zeros after your age and that is more likely to be your salary right after you graduate.”
Just like going from home to college was a transition, so is moving from college to the working world. Working eight hours a day, possibly moving to a new city, living alone, no more fall, winter, spring and summer breaks, and no more cafeteria food (not necessarily a bad thing) are pretty dramatic changes when you are used to going to a few classes a day, hanging out with friends, having your food prepared for you and maybe working a part-time job.
“I wish someone had told me how different it was going to be,” Crawford said. “I was so proud of my accomplishments, but I had unrealistic expectations. So I definitely have some advice for people who have just graduated from college.”
Some things would have been really good to know beforehand, according to Kerri. She said, "I wish someone had told me...":
- Not to sell back all of my textbooks and to keep some of the notes I took in class. There have been countless times when I wished I could refer back to something I read or heard in a class.
- How important it is to build relationships with classmates. The world is a lot smaller than you think. I have run into so many people I never thought I would see again. These people become your co-workers and are great contacts in the community.
- Have an open mind when you are looking for a job. I wanted a job working with adolescent girls. I work mostly with adolescent boys in a job that I believe will be a stepping stone.
- Have good relationships with your professors. They know people in the community and can give good job leads and recommendations.
- Practice your interview skills ahead of time. I thought interviewing for jobs would be a breeze. After the third or fourth rejection, I had to rethink what I was doing. You have to learn how to sell yourself and what you are capable of to the person interviewing you.
- Experience in your field is an asset when you graduate. Every interviewer asked me if I had any experience. Looking back, I wish I had volunteered more so when they asked me if I had experience I could have responded with a confident yes.
- The real world is a full-time job. Not only do you have to adjust to a new work situation, you must also adjust to life outside of work. Instead of pulling all-nighters and taking naps in the afternoon, try to get a decent night’s rest. Be ready for financial changes. It is a whole new ballgame when you are responsible for rent, groceries, utilities, insurance, gas, etc. You may have to say no to the “wants” until you get on your feet.”
Making it to this point is what many young people strive for from high school on. Even though the working world is challenging, it's time to put all of your learning into practice and experience life in the world’s classroom.