I’ll always remember my transition from college to career. It was an incredibly chaotic time, to say the least.
During my last month on campus, I had a complete mental breakdown from the 30 credit hours I was taking. Yes, 30 credit hours. And yes, I was insane. But I was trying to graduate at the same time as my then-fiancé. He had a job already lined up that required moving across the country, so I felt like I didn’t really have a choice. The last long-distance relationship I had been in ended in heartbreak, so I didn’t want to travel that path again. Luckily, I had some incredibly understanding professors who let me extend deadlines–and in one case, skip giving a presentation altogether.
The day I graduated, Brett and I drove to St. Louis for our wedding reception. Even though we’d decided on a destination wedding in Jamaica, we still wanted to celebrate with our friends and family. So, even though everyone we knew resided in Chicagoland or Wisconsin, we managed to convince everyone to come to us–to accommodate our schedule.
Only hours after our reception ended, we drove across the country to our new home in Washington, DC. Two weeks later, we both started our first jobs out of college. Two weeks after that, we were married in Montego Bay, Jamaica.
Seems insane but perfect, right? Well, unfortunately, the story doesn’t end there.
Since then, I’ve been through job after job trying to find my place in the workforce. Along the way, I was met with the harsh reality of Corporate America and decided in June 2010 to start my own business, Come Recommended.
Oh yeah, and in case it needs saying, my lack of stability has put strains on my marriage. Brett, who is still in the same job after all this time and plans to never leave, has been more supportive of me than I could ever imagine, but that doesn’t mean things are always easy. Money is tight and time together is even tighter.
I wish I had a copy of Life After College: The Complete Guide to Getting What You Want by Jenny Blake right around this time during my senior year of college. I have a feeling I would have done a lot differently. (Heck, reading through it even now…I plan to make some much-needed changes!)
I wanted to write a book that was punchy and easy-to-read, yet also informative and inspiring. There are tons of books for college graduates already, but most are focused on the basic nuts and bolts (things that people can now easily Google)—or they are limited to just one area, like Career.
The format is what makes it unique. It’s a book written in a format that I (and I think many other 20-something Gen Y’ers) would want to read. It’s not a narrative, but rather a compilation of tips, quotes and exercises trimmed to the essence, divided into chapters to optimize every major life area. Chapter categories include life (values, goals), work, money, organization, home, friends & family, dating & relationships, health, fun & relaxation, and personal growth. Just like my blog helps people focus on the BIG picture, the book does the same but in a Twitter-esque style.
I completely agree with Jenny’s own description of Life After College — she describes it exactly the way I would!
I just love that you can open Life After College to any page and find a useful tidbit. Case in point: I just opened randomly to page 77, where Jenny has an exercise for readers to help them create a “Job Interview One-Sheeter.” She encourages you to write down three to five things you want the interviewer to remember about you, stories that show you’re a rock star and uniquely qualified for the position, areas for development, and more. You can even download this exercise from the Life After College blog.
Because this is a career-focused blog, I decided to ask Jenny a question that I’m often asked: What is more ideal in your opinion—a well paying job that you like, or a mediocre paying job that you love?
I personally would choose the mediocre-paying job that I LOVE any day over a high-paying job—especially one where I felt bored or stagnant. I’m all about the side hustle—so if you can find a mediocre-paying job that you love, you will have more creative energy to pursue projects outside of work that could also bring in additional income. Finally, you never know where that mediocre-paying job will lead—if the learning curve is high and you are lit-up with possibility every day, great things will happen.
My final question for Jenny: If someone is stuck in a career that they don’t enjoy, do you think it is wise to start over with a new career, even if it means they may suffer a financial setback?
Yes. I believe that it’s never too late to start over, as scary as it may seem. It’s about living life to the fullest—but I also think this varies greatly depending on each individual’s values. If someone values stability and security over all else, they may be better off staying with the status quo. But if you value risk-taking and adventure, this isn’t even a question. This is where I advise people to really listen to their gut. One of my favorite coaching exercises around big decisions is to ask the following questions: What does your head say? What does your heart say? What does your gut say? It can be really interesting to see the difference between what our head (“social self”) wants compared to our heart (our “essential self”—terms coined by Martha Beck).
But remember, Life After College covers so much more than careers. Even if you’ve been out of college for a few years, you will definitely benefit from Jenny Blake’s wisdom. And don’t forget to subscribe to her blog for up-to-date tips!
Have you read Life After College? What are your thoughts?