Either way, there were somethings that I learned on my own, somethings came into fruition after I fucked up multiple times, and some I heard from friends and family.
You’ve just spent 4+ years being a student. Travel, nap, learn a new recipe, cook something new or start a hobby or project. Don’t rush into anything, plan slowly and confidently.
Take advantage of people that graduated with your major, minor or current interest.
At CSU Northridge, I had a huge network of people who graduated in Kinesiology and in Psychology. I had no idea where I wanted to go to school, what programs were good, bad or not worth the money. Do not be afraid to reach out. LinkedIn is a great resource and it’s a lot more business-like than sending someone a Instagram DM or Facebook message.
Don’t give up too quickly during the job search.
I had plans to leave my part-time job and go full time in the 6 months after college. It took 8 months of banging out cover letters, sending resume after resume, and tracking down HR people before I landed at the job I have now. I didn’t hear from 75-80% of the companies I’ve applied to. I was “over” qualified, didn’t have enough “real world experience”, too much “school experience”, I didn’t have a Master’s (really? for a receptionist position???). The list went on and on. I had my moments that I thought I would never find anything, but I knew it would work out in the end.
Don’t settle on any old job.
This is very hard, especially since most of us are broke directly after college, and it would be very helpful to just jump into the workforce. But would you rather have a minimum wage job in 3 weeks or a salaried job with benefits in 3 months? Even though the job you get out of college is most likely temporary, it is easier to keep yourself afloat if you land a better paying job, or one with benefits.
Take the GRE.
There are some majors that require a Master’s degree at the least. If your major is one of them, make sure that you take the GRE (or other applicable test) early. I took it a year after I had been out of school, and I felt the difference. I wasn’t used to studying anymore, so it took me longer to get back into the swing or cracking open textbooks and practicing math problems. Your scores are good for years, so you can take it and still take a year of and still be prepared later.
Ask for challenging assignments at your current job or create your own.
If you are in a relatively boring position at work (secretary, receptionist, assistant etc.), ask your boss for other tasks to do. Not only will you get more stimulating work, but the workday will go by faster and your boss will be impressed that you took the initiative, and might remember that for future projects. I was very bored at work, and I knew that I wanted to create a wellness program for the office. That spiraled into convincing people to bring fruit to the office, gym membership research and more recently, I got asked to organize an office opening and help design the space!
If you don’t like the job after 6 full months, get out.
Trust your intuition. There’s nothing worse than staying in an bad place. Not everything has to be “made for you”.
Read for pleasure.
One of the ways I studied my vocabulary for the GRE was by reading leisure books. It was really helpful to read things in context, and it helped me finally get some of those books off my shelf that had been sitting there since sophomore year.
Don’t let obsessing over postgraduate plans ruin your friendships. So what that your best friend got into grad school before you (true story). You rushing to meet them, or feeling inadequate because you’re not doing the same thing as them will not change things for the positive. So don’t cause yourself any more stress than necessary. You’ve earned a break!