Lessons I've Learned Post Grad

I've been out of undergrad going on three years this upcoming May and I just can't keep thinking about how fast times seems to be flying. It seems like just yesterday I was accepting my bid for my sorority, working in my first internship, and attending my first college party. One day I woke up and I was two and a half years past post-grad and on the brink of my second semester of graduate school. Whoa.

What have I learned in my two-ish (almost three) years post-graduation? A LOT. Here are some of the lessons I've learned (unfortunately) the hard way.

  1. Work hard. This one seems like a no-brainer but really, work hard. It will pay off.  Maybe not tomorrow and maybe not next week -- but down the road, it will pay off. 
  2. Make time for you. This is your time to find out what you really enjoy doing. Knitting, reading and drinking red wine is one of my favorite pastimes and I don't make nearly enough time for that. Which is why I try to devote one night a week for "me-time". 
  3. Find a job you enjoy. This might not be your first job post-grad, second or even third. It's okay to try different fields and try different jobs out. Hopefully you find a career path that is perfect for you. 
  4. Get in a morning routine -- and stick with it. This one takes some time. In my first post-grad job, I had such high expectations. I thought I was going to wake up every morning and go to the gym, make breakfast and watch the news before work. Oh boy, how wrong I was. It took months, if not a solid year, to get into a routine post-grad. Another important tip: wake up at the same time everyday, even the weekends. It helps with your internal clock and makes waking up early a little bit easier.
  5. Get involved. Networking is SO important. Aside from getting your degree, I think networking and making business connections is numero uno. Join alumni groups, trade associations and local young professional groups. 
  6. Travel. Although I haven't been able to travel as much as I wish I could, I try to take a trip once a quarter (in the finance world, I've been taught to think in quarters). My work doesn't have as lenient a time off policy as I would like, but I make do. Especially now that most of my friends have either moved, stayed in town or moved back home -- it's time to travel and couch surf, before you're too old and your back hurts from sleeping on the couch, floor or air mattress. 
  7. You find out who your REAL friends are. One year post-grad you probably still have the majority of your friends from college but once you hit two years post-grad, it starts getting real. You either make time to keep your friendships healthy or you end up being Facebook friends who "like" (and maybe comment) on major life events.
  8. It's okay to take your time. Don't feel the pressure to get married, have children and buy a house. Everyone has their own path and sometimes, it might take longer to get there than others. It's important to remember, it's okay. I am so excited for all my friends who are getting married and starting their families, but I know that it's not in my plans right now and I'm okay with it. 
  9. Keep your end goal in mind. This is the hardest for me to come to grips with and remember. We've become so accustomed to having instantaneous gratification and instant results, it's sometimes hard to see your long term goals. I have it written down in my planner and I get to see it everyday. It really helps to keep me on track and focused on the end goal. 
  10. Not to sound cliche but remember to have fun. Someone once told me "this is both the oldest you've ever been and the youngest you ever will be again". This has stuck in my mind for years. Go for happy hour with your girlfriends, go on the date that cute guy asked you on or even join the book club you've been yearning for, because really -- what do you have to lose?  

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