The post-college guide to skating the transition between school and the real world with grace

Congrats! You're finally in your last (and likely most stressful year) of college. Besides the stress of final projects, capstone courses, remembering to register for graduation — and subsequently forgetting to register for graduation — there's also the stress of every family member asking you, "So, what are your plans for after school?" or your Aunt Sylvia lovingly reminding you that "Oh boy the job market is no good for that right now!" (We know, because you and your baby boomer friends ruined the economy.)

But you're in luck: Armed with a level of existential dread straight out of The Graduate and a post-college guide written by someone who, quite honestly, doesn't have it all figured out yet either, you're almost ready to take on "the real world."

Let's dispel this myth right away: College is in the real world, and it at times is way harder than what our parents call "the real world" — especially if you're part of the 70 percent of college students who work at least part-time while getting their degrees.

Finding a job in your career is easier when you find a mentor or adviser in your program and keep in touch after graduation. Professionals from your field are literally in front of you every day. Sure, maybe your professor was a jerk and made you read 200 pages a week, but she also has connections in the field, a good sense of how to get into your desired career, and is teaching because she wants to pass this knowledge on. Find the people who want to pass information on and hang out at their office hours as often as possible.

The promise of a career and higher paying job makes the school struggle worth it, but if you can't find a job aligned with your career immediately after college, don't panic. There are plenty of things you can do to start your career. Find an internship or fellowship using or even your LinkedIn page. Follow up with former professors and connections from your university to see what's happening in your field.

Leaving your college town for a job is another good way to get into the job market. Sure, all of your friends are here and you built up a whole life for yourself in college, but everyone who graduated from your department is also looking for a job in the area right now. Getting out of the same place you've been for four or more years is also a good change of pace. If it's not for you, you can always come back.

But before you do leave, get everything you can out of your undergrad experience. Make a college bucket list of things you can only get away with in college. It doesn't matter how dumb or ridiculous you think they are. Go ahead, streak across campus. (Just don't cite this article if you get caught.)

Isabella Hinojosa is an editorial intern at Metro Times.

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