Graduating college has always been a stressful experience for young people, but today it's becoming even more intimidating. Less job security, increased job competition from around the world, high college tuition and a lot of other real-world pressures have all combined, and the result is that many college students are terrified about what will come next!
In fact, graduating college can be a lot like jumping off a moving train! I would never recommend jumping out of a train to anyone, but there are some situations where you might have to do it just to survive. (For example: a terrorist situation, a faulty bridge, James Bond casting call.) In today's fast-changing workplace, graduating college is also a survival necessity for future employability.
So, for all those soon-to-be college graduates, here's my top five reasons that graduating college is like jumping off a moving train!
5. You need to look before you leap. It's much easier to close your eyes when you do a scary jump. However, if you close your eyes as you're coming out of college, you'll probably miss some opportunities. Career success books are full of stories about people finding incredible networking opportunities in the strangest places and then eventually landing the job of their dreams. By keeping your eyes open, you'll end up in a much better place.
Photo: Many thanks to mulder.hu
From 4. It's something you have to do alone. Everyone might be holding your hand before you jump, but when it really comes down to it, you must go it alone. Jumping off a train with someone else usually ending in both people becoming a confused tangle of arms and legs that badly injures everyone involved. Same for leaving college. If you cling too tightly to someone else (e.g. your parents), eventually one or both of you will get hurt.
3. You can't practice before you do it. Few people (stunt doubles excluded) jump off a train enough times to know how to do it properly. Graduating college is another thing that people do infrequently. You can read about it, ask people about it, and prepare yourself intellectually for it, but until you're standing there on the edge staring into the unknown... all you're doing is learning theory.
2. You don't know if you will have a hard or a soft landing when you take off, but you will definitely land somewhere. You're a college graduate. That's already a point for you. Even if you have to settle for the most mind-numbing job in the world after college, you are absolutely able to find a job that is more suited to your talent and abilities. Often, the hardest part is making that first jump into the real world. Then you know you can do it and are in a position to look for the next opportunity.
1. Be prepared to hit the ground running. When you jump off a train, the difference in speed between you and the ground can be pretty significant. If you land squarely on both feet, your momentum will bowl you over and probably cause some pretty serious injuries. On the other hand, if you run or roll, you're a lot more likely to come out of the experience unscathed. Same with graduating college. If you're ready to keep your momentum going, you'll likely come of out the experience just fine.
Just like jumping off a train in high heels is a fantastically bad idea, so is entering the workplace expecting that your first job will give you benefits, a pension, and a gold watch when you retire 40 years later. You need to learn about what you're getting into; how the workplace is changing, what organizations need to do to be competitive, and how you can add value.
Nevertheless, plenty of people have done it before and plenty will do it after you. (Just as movie stars will continue their train-jumping days far into the future.) The important thing to remember is that you need to concentrate on surviving the experience, instead of just worrying about it.