If you’re among the 4 million college students about to graduate in the US this year, you’re likely experiencing one of the most thrilling times of your life. And you’re about to launch an even bolder, brand new phase.
While the stats vary, a recent survey by TimelyMD shows that 62% of college students have secured a job after graduation. The job market is strong and this group of students said they found the process easier than they expected. They’ll naturally miss the college experience, but they’re eager to tackle their professional life as the work world continues to evolve after the height of COVID.
But if you don’t have a position lined up right out of the gate, you’re fine. And clearly you’re not alone! As the research shows, at least 38% of students don’t have a position lined up. You may not be too sure what you’re after; you may have landed a few interviews but no offers; you may want to take a little time off before transitioning to the work world … whatever the case may be, you want to be sure you make the move that’s right for you and do it as strategically — and as stress-free — as possible.
Change Is Exciting But Can Be Stressful
The reality is, as exciting as this moment is, it also can feel unsettling. Many major aspects of your life are changing in a really short period of time. You’re leaving the warm, safe cocoon of your college life, filled with friends, teachers, bars, stores, restaurants and parks you may never see again.
Your daily routine will change completely. Instead of focusing on which classes to take on Mondays and Wednesdays, where to go on a Thursday night or when to cram for your next exam, your focus will be on determining things like how best to use your time, where you can afford to live and what type job is a great fit for you.
In many ways you’ve been preparing yourself for this big shift for years. You knew it was coming, and hopefully you’re eager and prepared. But it’s not always possible to anticipate every decision you’ll need to make or how you’ll feel about things. Sometimes we don’t know what life will really be like until we experience it ourselves.
Too Much Stress Is Never A Good Thing
Everyone handles change differently, and the important thing is to acknowledge how well you’re handling it and what your stress level is. You may not find the transition to this new phase very stressful at all. Or, you may find that it causes you to feel scattered, anxious or stuck and unable to move forward.
Too much stress can cause or contribute to all kinds of immediate physical ailments (headaches, acne, stomachaches, clenched jaws, sleeplessness) and long-term health concerns too, such as high blood pressure, heart disease and cancer. (If you feel your stress is too high, consult your physician, who may put you in touch with a licensed mental health professional.)
It’s also nearly impossible to make good decisions when your stress is too high. And when you’re changing a lot of aspects of your life all at once and you’re about to make some significant decisions, you definitely want to be able to think clearly, creatively and logically.
How To Reduce Stress & Enjoy New Career-Launch Success As A New College Grad
Fortunately, there are many practical steps you can take to reduce job search nerves, such as being organized and practicing your interviewing skills; sleeping well; and establishing realistic goals and timelines. These are all beneficial approaches.
What’s even better? Establishing a positive, focused and calm mindset as your foundation. Do this, and you can tackle anything.
The most effective way I’ve found to do this is by incorporating mindfulness. Being mindful means being fully present and aware of what you are doing, seeing, hearing and feeling in any given moment without judgment. It means paying solid attention on purpose and not drifting off and thinking about something else.
If you meditate or practice yoga, you already may be familiar with mindfulness and its benefits, which are numerous. It increases empathy and compassion for others and yourself. It strengthens your ability to focus and solve problems. It enhances your self-acceptance and patience. It boosts your health and wellbeing. And it reduces stress.
There are several simple ways to add mindfulness to your life and job search, including exercises focused on taking slow, deep breaths, meditation, mindful walking and much more.
The bottom line is, you don’t need to have your life and all your next moves figured out. But introducing some mindfulness into your life will help you ensure more of those next moves will be the right ones for you.
You may never have such a completely wide open opportunity to find the job and craft the lifestyle you most desire. You deserve to find work that brings you joy, meaning and success as you define it. Take a deep breath. You've got this. Your moment is now.
Trie Angeleva, MA, MA
As a Mindful Dream-Job Career Coach, Owner of Planet Reimagine and with Manhattan as her backdrop, Trie thrives when collaborating with others to reimagine their life, work, leadership or organization. She developed and taught Career Success Preparation for The Media School at Indiana University, where she taught 21 classes. A 30-year vegetarian, adopted-dog mom and travel-happy meditator and yogi, Trie is a former CIO and COO and founder of Embark and The Love Monday Method. She has two Master's degrees, six coaching certifications and a certificate in Executive Leadership from Cornell University. Connect with Trie at email@example.com.