Post College Depression: Tips for Transitioning to the ‘Real World’

Depressed recent college graduate sitting on floor looking out of the window.

Graduating from college means you’ve succeeded, right? So, why are you not as happy as you envisioned yourself to be when you finally get your diploma? These strange feelings of loneliness, anxiety, melancholy, and dread can be summed up in one phrase: post college depression. Many graduates have this, particularly those who have a hard time adjusting to changes. It’s that feeling of not being prepared enough that’s eating at you. Some students had a blast during their college years and wish they can stay there forever.

If you’re currently suffering from post college depression, you’re not the only one. Here are some tips on how to transition to the real world after college.

Dealing With Employment Pressure

The goal is to hit the ground running as soon as you get your degree, but some college graduates couldn’t get a handle on things immediately and end up depressed. They’re thinking about the competition in the job market, their student loans, and the pressure to find a career that is related to their field of study. Other people are starting their careers and are being headhunted by big firms, so why aren’t you?

Reading the classifieds can make your post college depression worse because most companies are looking for candidates with “at least one year of job-related experience” for their best job openings, and you don’t have that yet. The key is to find an entry-level job that leads to your ultimate dream job. You need to start somewhere, but make sure you have a game plan in place before you send an application to just any job.

Map Out Your Career

Take this time to map out your career, and to be realistic about what your options are. Consider what you’re good at, what your field of study is, and what will make you really happy. For instance, a fresh grad of economics takes on a job as a gym instructor with the ultimate goal of setting up his own sports equipment business ten years from now. A brilliant business ad major may be working as a full-time maintenance staff in a big company so that he can pay for MBA in two years and learn about the corporate world in the meantime. The bottom rung of the ladder always leads somewhere, so consider what your career ladder looks like.

Confused about your goals? Create your “I-don’t-want-this” list so that you can decide which items you can compromise about when you really need to. For example, you see a great job opening but the company is in another state. You will have to decide whether you really want the job and start planning to relocate, or find another opening nearby. With any luck, you can find your dream entry-level job this way.

What About Your Other Interests?

Do you have a hobby that makes you happy but isn’t related to your career? Many of us develop hobbies during college that don’t translate well in the real world, income-wise. If you have this, you don’t have to give it up. Devoting time to your hobby can ease the work stress, so it has its uses. Also, many career-minded people would tell you that their hobbies have become their inspiration to keep working hard. The old adage about working and playing hard simply means you have something that helps you unwind when you’re too stressed.

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