My #1 Piece of Advice For Recent College Graduates

Why You Should Take the Summer off After College Graduation // Pearl Girl

Last week, Timehop reminded me that it’s been three whole years since I graduated college. It’s a weird milestone — the class graduating this year is the last one I went to school with, so it almost feels like the end of an era. I’m really no longer a “recent” graduate, one that can crash on a friend’s couch on a visit to campus, or can pin early-to-adulthood mistakes on my newbie status.

Katie’s post summed up so many things I feel about post-grad life really well. College is amazing, and there’s certain things about it that can never be replicated. Like, never in my life again will I be able to take quite that many naps. Or live in the same house as the vast majority of my friends. And have a chef. (Sometimes, I do really miss living in a sorority house. Although how I survived with that little space, I’ll never know.)

But there’s so much good to come after graduation. Building a career is incredibly fulfilling. So is living truly on your own, and all that comes with it — paying bills, rent, grocery shopping. But beyond the boring stuff, there’s the fun stuff, too. Like having an income, being able to make big purchases you’ve saved for on your own, or plan your own getaways to locales you’ve always wanted to visit. Also, not having to do homework is straight-up amazing.

Adulthood has its ups and downs, but I can say that for the most part, I truly do enjoy it. But it is the rest of your life. No breaks, no checking out. So for those of you who are about to graduate college — or are looking forward to a graduation in the near future — I have a piece of advice: Take the summer.

I want to preface this with the fact that I know that this isn’t an option for everyone. Some people’s parents won’t let them move back home. Financial constraints, are, of course, different for everybody. And if your dream job comes knocking, obviously, you have to leap at that opportunity. But if it is a feasible option for you, do it.

Job applications will wait. Live at home for a few months. See your friends. Spend time with your family. Save money. Sleep. Watch Netflix. If you can, travel.

So often, college graduates can fall into the I-must-have-a-job panic after graduation. But the truth is that you will get a job. It’s not like internships where there’s a deadline of sorts, where if you don’t have one by a certain point in the summer, then it’s likely too late. Whether it takes you three weeks or three months, a job will come. (And many graduates negotiate their start dates so they can have the summer to themselves.) And

But time at home won’t come around again.

This is especially relevant to anyone reading who isn’t planning on living a short drive from their parents’ place after they graduate. You don’t know how life will work out, and you may never live near your family again. (Obviously, only time will tell, but I’m fairly certain I never will.) This is your last chance! Once you hop on the employment train, you may never come off again.

As you probably know, I’m originally from Chicago, and now I live in New York. I have a fair amount of close friends who still live in Chicago, and I can’t express how lovely it was to have three months after graduation to spend time with them, not to mention hang out with my family. I go home a few times a year now, and even when I can stretch the visits to a week, it’s still always bittersweet to say goodbye. I’m so, so happy now that I took that extra time to spend with some of the most important people in my life. Plus, it’s only the summer. It may feel like a long time at first, but it really will fly by.

But perhaps my biggest reason for taking the summer? Travel. If you can travel during this time, please oh please, DO IT. Even if you can only take a week. Once you’re employed, vacation days dictate how much you can travel, and often, when you can do it. (For example, I rarely travel from January to mid-March now because it’s a busy time at my job.) I was lucky enough to go on two big trips after graduation — to Hong Kong, and to Berlin, Prague, Salzburg and Vienna. You don’t need to go far, but I highly recommend taking advantage of the ability to go on vacation before you’re counting your days.

Real life is not as scary as you might think. But after graduating, I truly believe the best gift you can give yourself is a little extra time before diving in.

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