Advice for College Students and Recent Graduates

By, Nicole Crimaldi

In Christine Hassler’s book “20 Something, 20 Everything” she describes one’s twenties as an “expectation hangover.” I couldn’t agree more.

Think back to yourself in college. If you were an ambitious career girl, you were trying to study hard in order to understand the intricacies of your dedicated field of study. Your goal was to land a sweet job which paid well, offered benefits and a path for quick promotion. If you were like me, you knew you wanted to move to the city after graduation and live your own version of “Sex and the City.” You’d have a great apartment and frequent trendy hot spots while still stock piling money in the bank and avoiding debt.

Enter reality.

My first job was in sales. My definition of sales in college meant “Being cute and wearing nice outfits will definitely close more deals (duh)! I mean I love people, right?! I will make $70,000 my first year out of school and I will be SO good at this!!”

The base salary at my first sales job was so low that I didn’t feel comfortable moving out of my parents’ house. I cold called all day. My clients were not glamorous and we didn’t meet in fancy board rooms.  We met at their kitchen table in distressed neighborhoods. Deals fell through. The bonus structure was designed so that it was almost impossible to really cash in on it.

Things did get better after that first job in terms of salary and job responsibilities. And yes, I moved out of my parents’ house less than a year after graduating college (don’t even get me started on my nasty first apartment though!). Regardless, the one piece of advice I’d give to college students who are nearing graduation is not to get stuck on your high expectations. Your high expectations will only hurt you and haunt you as you get your first big credit card bill, pay your rent, and sit in your cubicle wondering how you got there.

Yes, it’s true: you went to college so you can live the same day over and over again doing work that is probably slightly boring and repetitive, then pay bills.

And that “Sex and the City” lifestyle? It costs a lot of money. Good luck stock piling your savings account while sipping on $10 drinks, taking cabs, looking cute and paying for your apartment on an entry-level salary (which probably isn’t nearly what you had hoped it would be).

The point of my story? Embrace the imperfect. Embrace that you will likely be “a dollar short and a day late” throughout much of your twenties. You may get into your career and realize you despise it. Things will most likely not go as planned. The guy you thought you were going to marry in college might let you down. Every day is not sunny. But at the end of the day, your twenties is an adventure- it’s just a different kind than you originally imagined.

Ms. Career Girl

Ms. Career Girl was started in 2008 to help ambitious young professional women figure out who they are, what they want and how to get it.

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