We all make mistakes. Some are big, some are small. Some have an effect on the rest of our life, and some we barely notice a change! Having been done with school for over 3 years now, I feel like I have a good perspective on some important decisions that I made directly after college. How we learn and grow from our mistakes is much more important usually than the mistake we made. We are human and this is natural, so I want to share 5 mistakes that I made right out of college and shed some light.
1. Don’t Give up on Dreams: My last semester of college I was certain what I wanted to do in my career. I wanted to become a Sales and Marketing Director for a PGA Tour event. I took the first step toward this and took an internship 12 hours from home working for the American Junior Golf Association. Somewhere in the middle of my internship, I lost my direction. I lost my ambition for the initial dream I had.
Looking back, it’s easy to reflect and think that I should have kept pursuing my initial dream. My dream changed, and I lost direction for awhile. It’s important to keep dreams in our head and keep moving toward them. Now I have a new dream that I am after! Dreams are what gives us the motivation to get up and do what we do every morning so when we aren’t pursuing what we want, it’s easy to get lost.
2. Do it Self Mentality: I’m an extremely independent person. I am an only child and have always done a lot of things on my own. Unfortunately, this can also be my greatest weakness. We need help in our lives after college. If you are unsure about the path you want to take, seek council from friends, teachers, and coaches.
When I lost my direction for a bit, I shut down and didn’t want to talk to anyone. If you are facing a big life decision, take some time to talk to people you trust and create a plan of action that will get you heading in the right direction.
3. Live for the Moment, Not in the Future: Right after college all I wanted to do was reach my initial career goal. Knowing that it would take quite awhile to get there, I got frustrated. I kept thinking about how great life would be when I got there, and where I could be living. I didn’t live for the moment I was in. I was too busy worrying about how I was going to reach the end goal. Well, part of reaching the end goal is having some effective life experiences along the way!
Keep your eye on the prize with what you want to do in your life. Make a bucket list. But also make sure to take in the present, and enjoy every second that you have.
4. Network: I made a lot of great contacts while in college, one of which helped me land my internship right after graduation. But I quit communicating with a lot of them, and for whatever reason we lost touch. With Facebook and email, it’s very easy to keep in touch with the contacts you make. Keep your options open with everyone, especially if you are unsure about what you want to do.
I know networking doesn’t seem like a big deal when you’re in college, but it is. One of the best ways to get a job after college is to know someone who is working in a field that you’re interested in. The more contacts you make, the better off you will be in the long run.
5. Be Independent: This might seem strange, considering one of the mistakes I mentioned was the “Do it Self Mentality,” but I’m referring to another kind of independence. After my internship ended I moved back in with my parents. I didn’t know what to do, so that’s what I did. After being away for 5 years, I moved back in. I’m sure this was tough on my parents, and it was also another adjustment for me. It was a comfort zone for me, but the best thing for me at that time would have been to be out of my comfort zone and having new life experiences.
Independence also means meeting new people and forming new friendships. This is how we grow as people and move forward with confidence.
Many of us after college now are having a tough time entering the real world. The job market is soft, we aren’t sure what our next step is, so we take what seems like a logical route. We take an internship, we move back in with our parents, or we go back to school. We are anxious to get on with our lives and expect things to happen quickly. I’ll argue that all of these are experiences we can learn from, but they all delay the inevitable part of our lives of actually creating an income for ourselves.
So take some advice from my 2nd mistake, and don’t go at it alone. Seek some council from trusted individuals and really identify what you want out of life! Then start working towards that! That’s when it will all make sense, when we are doing things that give us energy and purpose every morning.
Keep making mistakes and learning! Don’t be afraid to mess up, we all do it. It’s how we respond to those mistakes that will define us in the end.
Mistakes we’ll make, mistakes we’ll overcome, let’s fly around and have some fun! – Joe Link
Dan – 7/20/11