What are your plans after you graduate?
So what now? Image via Unsplash.

Your exams are looming, deadlines fast approaching, you stare at your desk, filled with notes and ‘to-do’ lists. You take a deep breath, probably even scratch your head, sigh and you wonder to yourself – What is this all about? What am I doing with my life? WHAT AM I DOING HERE!? Will all these even matter next time?

The answer is undeniably yes. All the assignments and exams that add up to your grade are what open interview doors at the biggest, most successful firms and companies. So yes, for the most part, it really does matter. As for the “what are you doing with your life” thing – well, that’s completely up to you. After all, it’s you who holds the key to your life, as clichéd as that sounds.

Fast-forward a few months from now, after all the blood, sweat, and tears, and you’ll be there at your graduation ceremony. With your parents beaming down at you from the stand, most likely spamming the camera as you walk down to receive your certificate. For that brief minute as you claim your hard-earned prize, you’ll look up and know you did them proud. But what next? Ah, that’s the question we all fear…

The period of your life where you simply follow a schedule and roll on up to class is over, and now life is filled with uncertainty. It’s official – this is full-blown adulthood. Now you have bills to pay, bosses to please and your parents to take care of. (It’s your turn to repay the debt now, isn’t it?)

Where do I start? What do I do?

Now is the time to sit yourself down and figure out exactly where you want to go. What do you want to work do? Where do you aspire to be five years down the line? Is what you’re doing now making you happy? Or are you rolling with it just because? Do you want to be an employee or your own boss? Do YOU know who YOU are?

As surprising as it is, the question “do you know who you are?” stumps a lot of people at this point in life. You’re starting to wonder about the choices you’ve made: your degree, your friends and your family. Then you start to question yourself. Are you doing this simply because people around you have been egging you on, or is this a path you decided on your own? BUT if you are really stumped on this question, then it’s a sign for you to take a step back, breathe and rediscover yourself once more.

Road to self-discovery

Again, this sound like an old cliché, but it really does work. The quarter-life crisis is real, but it happens to different people at different points in life. Lots of your peers will find themselves dumbfounded when they reach this stage in life. They feel as though they’ve lost a huge part of their identity, and they’re no longer sure why they’re doing these things or if they really matter. Chances are, you probably have peers who are accumulating job offers as you sit here reading this article, but before you make things worse by comparing yourself to your friends, you need to ensure you’re confident with what you want in life.

Just because your friends are scouting big companies to work for doesn’t mean that you should follow suit. If you want to further your studies instead, go for it! You shouldn’t feel belittled just because your path in life is different to those of your friends. Sure, doing a Masters or PhD. will set you back a couple of years, but in the long run that extra time will prove to be insignificant. Real life isn’t a race.

But if you’re still feeling lost, why not travel the world (on your own, if possible), because it’s a sure-fire way of figuring out exactly what you want in life. Learning how to do things independently gives you a whole new perspective and aspirations in life. It sharpens your goals and your opinions on what you are truly capable of in the real world. And when you’ve got that bit figured out, let’s just say that at least you now know roughly where you’re headed in your next stage in life.

Finding the perfect job

Is there such thing as a perfect job? Perhaps there is: fully stocked pantry, extremely friendly colleagues and in a field you have a true passion for. Sounds too good to be true? Maybe. Which boils down to understanding the criteria and your own definition of the ‘perfect’ job. Before you start drafting a mind-map of your most ideal careers, consider the nagging voices of your parents. After all, they only want what’s best for you.

If you’re considering writing songs because it’s truly what you’re interested in, think about the future or the bigger picture. Where do you go from there? Can you take it to the next big step? You are no longer a daydreaming adolescent teenager. You are now an adult and with age, comes responsibility –and these include bills to pay and mouths to feed. So, even if you really want to write songs for a living, start by doing it as a side job to your actual full-time, paying position. When and IF it really hits off, then yes, you can focus on writing songs as your career.

The Big Four

Ask any starry-eyed, high-achieving student on the road to graduation where their ideal job location is and you’re bound to hear one of the Big Four: Ernst & Young, PWC, Deloitte or KPMG. These four big names are good enough to get any pre-grad students drooling. Each prestigious name comes with bragging rights (for both the one getting hired AND their parents). If you’re really sure this is the road you want to pursue, do it with your head held high. Remember that it’s your dream you are chasing.

Begin by asking friends and family to help train you for interviews because practice makes perfect -ESPECIALLY when it comes to schmoozing for the job. The big four typically come with assessments for you to complete and it is okay to fail. Hardly anyone gets in on their first try anyway. So, if you didn’t make it on your first go, pick yourself back up, dust off your clothes and try again. In fact, try as many times as you can because we learn a little bit more with every failure and the Big Four dream isn’t one that’s so easily accomplished.

Uncertainty with your career goals

It’s okay to be unsure – and this is a fact that can’t be emphasized enough. After all, you’ll now be working for at least the next 40 years of your life! You can’t expect to hit it off right away on the perfect note. Just because you go into a role that doesn’t meet your expectations, doesn’t mean you will be stuck in that role forever. Go out, work different jobs and discover for yourself which line of work truly inspires and enriches your life. This is for you and only for you. Do something you love, BUT make sure it pays enough and you feel appreciated. If you don’t find it on your first try, go at it again. You got this. And remember – you’re not alone.

This post was written by Suyin Leow from iPrice Group.

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