Post grad isn’t a walk in the park. I’ve been there.
I moved four times, had my car totaled twice, bought two new cars, changed jobs three times… all in the span of three years! Life after graduating college is just a lot, let’s be honest here. I didn’t change jobs or move because circumstances weren’t good or I failed at things.. quite the opposite. Amazing job opportunities came, and I decided to quit my job and do my dream job as a full time photographer 2.5 years after graduation. I moved because friends got married, locations were better and God provided just at the right time.
I’ll say it again… post grad isn’t a walk in the park! Regardless of your situation, it’s a hard transition. The safety net of parents, next steps and security is removed and all of a sudden, you have bills, rent, responsibilities and a new schedule to steward. I believe stewarding is the best lesson to learn as you enter the work force! Stewarding time, resources, relationships, money and giving generously can be challenging if you’ve never done it before. Welcome to post grad, peeps. I hope this blog post is helpful as you dive in head first! I’ve been there, done it and would love to offer 10 lessons I learned in this wacky phase!
1. Listen to your parents or wise people for counsel
This might not sound super appealing, let’s be real. Who wants to be told “no” occasionally or have someone say things you might not want to hear? But this is the way of wisdom. Surround yourself with people who have lived some life, walked the hard road of holiness, come out on the other side of difficulty and trusted Jesus with their life. Learning to listen to elders is a great quality. Find a mentor at church or open up to your parents.
2. Live on as little as you can
If you’ve never read it, check out The Total Money Makeoverby Dave Ramsey. When you’re young, you really don’t need much to live regardless of what society says. Unless you’re in a city with really high rent payments, then living in America is affordable for the most part. Whether you make 25k, 80k or somewhere in between, the same principles apply. Develop a budget, stick to it, pay off debts quickly, invest in your retirement accounts (the compounding rates are crazy if you start young!), don’t buy things hastily and give generously. Those are pretty basic principles and what most people would agree on, but practically it can be challenging! Determine to honour God with your money so that you can be a good steward of the things entrusted to you.
3. Find ways to make money to save on the side
So many people feel confined to only making money through their day job. Find something that excites you and choose to save all the money you make from it! Babysitting, working extra shifts, developing a skill (carpentry, photography, calligraphy, etc.), putting up Christmas lights… there are so many ways to become a creative entrepreneur these days! Put those brains to work and get creative with earning extra income to save.
4. Work hard, play hard
Man, I worked so hard the first few years out of school (still do, ha!). I was exhausted a lot and honestly wish I had done it a little differently. If I could go back and re-do that phase, I would have set better work/life boundaries and said yes to more social activities. But hear me say this: be kind to yourself. The first six months of a new job are just plain tiring! Nothing is on auto pilot, so give yourself extra time to adapt and ask your friends for some grace.
5. Get plugged in to a church
Church will be your lifeline. I’ve been there — joining a new church can be scary! I went from being a megachurch pastor’s kid where everyone knows me to walking into a church where no one needed to know me. It was humbling, but exciting to become a core member of my church. Looking back nine years on joining my church, I couldn’t be more thankful for the family God provided. It’s been a lifeline in times of grief, a joy in times of serving and a place where my gifts can be used to their fullest.
6. Trust God for the next step
In the post-grad phase (which is actually just all of life), life may feel like a rollercoaster. Your job may be demanding and unenjoyable… You may have moved to a new city and have no friends… You may have broken up with someone and starting over. Whatever it may be, trust God with the details. Pray. Pray. Pray. And pray some more. Get on your knees daily, asking for direction. Even if there is silence, I promise God answers in His perfect timing! Oh, and listen to this song too!
7. Embrace change… because it will keep changing
I thought that two years after graduation, everything would settle. It still hasn’t, and I’m five years out! But I’ve learned to embrace that change is simply part of life. It can be scary to watch friends marry, move, change jobs and make new friends and wonder what implications those decisions have on your own life. So, lean on Christ as your consistency. Although community is so important, don’t base your location on where people live if that’s the only thing keeping you in a city. People move and change! But set your heart on Christ and He will be your safe haven.
8. Save, save, save so you can pursue your dreams!
I’m so thankful that I worked for 2.5 years before going full time with my photography business! I lived on my full time wage (not very much compared to my peers!) and spent zero dollars of my photography money to build up my savings account. I quit my full time job at the end of 2017, and in 2019 I made double my full time salary. I was able to invest in a new set of lenses, put money toward education and fund my living expenses because I had quickly saved a lot of money while photography was still a side hustle.
9. Give of your time while you have the time
You’ll truly never have an abundance of time like you have now! Use it for good, peeps. Don’t sit in front of screens, but get out in the community. Babysit your neighbours’ kids for free. Volunteer somewhere. Use the time to write encouraging notes to friends walking through post grad too. Commit to serving at church.
10. Spend less time on social media and more being present with friends
Oof, isn’t that convicting?! In this digital age, we are so prone to gluing our faces to screens, whether that be TV, phones, kindles, Apple watches… It’s all around us and hard to escape from sometimes! Commit to being different. When you’re around people, look them in the eye and give them your full attention. You’ll be counted as a good friend, faithful listener and counter-cultural.