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Five Tips for Recent Graduates

Updated: Mar 18

Written By: Lexxie Monahan

Dear new alumna,

You’ve done it. You’ve completed your formal education. Congratulations! Now that the commencement speeches that inspired you to climb a ladder, not climb a ladder, follow your heart, not follow your heart, do something, do anything are over - here you are, living a new life that isn’t easily financed with a part-time job and loans.

For those entering the working world or trying to, here are five things I wish I knew when I was new to the world of being a full-time working professional:

Hold on, existential crises are normal: When you’ve been programmed to go to class for almost two decades, it feels strange to step out into a new horizon where you don’t do that anymore. With so much change, your brain might try to cope by asking broad questions like, “What is the point?” and “Why, why, why?” If you’re like me, those questions can send you into a state of temporary depression.

Trust me, now is not the time to address these questions. Those rabbit holes can be dark and are better left for a time when you are less vulnerable.

The solution? Hold on. Find things that ground you and can help keep you focused on good things in the present. First and foremost, lean on your people. Even if you move far away, try checking in regularly with family or friends who make you feel good. Also, find things that keep you active. This might be working out, joining a club, or signing up to volunteer regularly.

Consume media with caution: You are entering a vulnerable state of uncertainty that takes a while to adjust to. Be gentle with yourself when consuming content, whether movies and tv, books, or social media. Lots of people will be posting their wins online and it’s hard to not compare yourself in a state of vulnerability. Dystopian movies and shows are great when you’re surrounded by friends but depressing as fuck when you’re by yourself. Implement boundaries for yourself where you can until you’ve got the confidence and security you need to face it all.

Have standards when making new friends: Whether or not you know it, you’ve been filtering friends your whole life through the schools you’ve attended, the places your parents chose to live, and the extracurriculars you’ve participated in. For many, much of that filtering is gone and it can be jarring. You might feel lonely and accept the friendship of folks who don’t make you feel great just to stave off the loneliness. Try not to do that! Let your gut guide you when offering/accepting invitations.

In my first year after graduating, my only friends were my Craigslist roommates, Tinder dates, and some characters I met through work. Several of these “friends” (though surprisingly none of the Tinder folk) put me in uncomfortable, unsafe situations and I just went along with them to be polite. I didn’t deserve that.

Have standards when choosing where you work: I was fortunate to have three job offers when I graduated. I chose the young-staffed startup. I didn’t read Lauren’s article about red flags. OOOOFFFF.

They were cheap. They wouldn't pay for anything. When traveling, I slept on strangers' couches or four (one time up to 20) in a room. No one ever walked me through a benefits package so I never signed up. Any time something unfortunate happened the manager would say “I understand sometimes people get emotional.” Yes, it was a red flag, red flag, red flag. But I ignored it. I was just grateful to be there. I felt they were generous to employ me during that period when I was figuring it all out. DO NOT BE ME. Have standards. Read up on culture and say no. Move on and out even before you cross the one-year mark. Despite there being thousands and thousands of terrible places to work, there are thousands and thousands of good places to work. You deserve to be at the latter!

Practice negotiating: The best thing I ever did for myself when looking for my second job was to negotiate my salary. They offered $36,000 and I wanted $40,000. They said no. I said, “How about after 6 months?” They said yes. Six months later I was making $40,000. It was the best gift to myself. Now, whenever I’m looking at a new job or opportunity, I remember that if a 23-year-old me could do it, I can do it now. The financial benefit is helpful and important, of course, but there is also a benefit to advocating for myself. It’s a good reminder that I know my worth and I am on my side.

You may not realize it yet, alumna, but this is a sacred time. Your independence is even more real than it was before and the person you’re burgeoning into deserves environments, personal and professional, that will allow your true, unique self, to grow, flourish, and forge your path. You’ll get where you’re going regardless, but I’m certain I could have saved myself some needless anguish if I knew these lessons years ago.


Meet the Author

Lexxie Monahan is always aspiring to something, whether it’s work-related (climbing a rung then the next) or personal (exploring herself or the world) - she’s always chasing some goal off in the horizon. Otherwise, she’s trying to make sure she keeps her kids, dog, and plants alive - preferably while sitting.


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1 commentaire

Love this! Thank you for writing it. It applies to new grads and is a good reminder for all of us!

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