Spring graduation just wrapped up, and many graduates are probably wondering what’s next.  Nelnet’s own Copywriting and Social Media Intern Steven Mah—and a May 2018 graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln—has a few tips on how he’s been navigating life after school.

First of all, congratulations on all your hard work. Soak it all in. The all-nighters, the last minute cram sessions, and the constant juggle between academics and social life all lead up to you walking on that stage.

Next, let me preface the rest of this blog by saying that I am no expert. I’ve certainly had many ups and downs throughout this past year, and there are probably many more qualified individuals who could give way better advice.

However, my hope is that in my experiences you’ll be able to find something that helps you find more peace after graduation, and gives you the confidence to thrive.

Routine

For four years, I had something going on each day, whether it was class, involvement with my club and fraternity, or just hanging out with friends.

Going from pretty much having your whole day planned out to working an 8-5 and having your evenings free was quite the transition. I didn’t know what to do with so much free time on my hands.

Once I started finding things I’ve always wanted to do, but didn’t have time for in college, it became a lot easier. Whether it was finally getting to that book on the shelf, or going on long runs, I was able to allocate my time for things that were productive and I enjoyed doing.

So I encourage you to make a list of all the things you’ve always wanted to do, set a time in your calendar for each activity, then send yourself a reminder to commit to them by starting a new routine.

It’s important to engage in activities that allow you to develop your whole self; mind, body, and spirit.

Failing

At one point or another, you will experience failure. What’s important is your response.

There were days where I wasn’t performing as well as I should have at work. Trust me, we all have them — and sometimes honest mistakes just happen. Sure, it might be easy in the moment to dwell on your mistakes, but avoid doing that as much as possible.

If you are a sports fanatic like me, then you’ll understand my “coach speak” when it comes to the 24-hour rule. You have 24 hours to reflect on what happened and learn by thinking about what you did wrong, and how you can get better. After that, it’s time to come back — no, bounce back — the next day, making sure to be better than before.

Once I embraced that attitude, my fear of failure decreased and, in turn, fueled my desire to excel. Your boss and your coworkers do not want to see you fail. In fact, they will be impressed by how you are able to embrace failure and turn it into success.

Your failures don’t define who you are, but how you learn from them will define your character. Having that mindset will not just serve you well in your first year out of undergrad, but really for the rest of your life.

Find Your Support Network

Call it what you want — your posse, your squad, or your support network — find people that will support you, both professionally and personally.

One thing to remember is to be as open and honest as possible when leaning on your support network. For example, when you have 1:1 meetings with your team leader, the only way it’s a productive meeting is if you’re honest. If there’s anything your leader can improve on, or the company can improve on, don’t be afraid to bring those to the table. As I mentioned earlier, your leader wants to see you succeed, and that means helping you create a work environment that maximizes your potential.

If you don’t already have a support network, it’s easy to establish one. It could be comprised of your friends, family, coworkers, and even your boss. It could also include people you connect with at different networking events in your area. Heck — it could even be that book club you’re a part of every week.

Whoever you choose, it’s a gift to have people in your corner you can always lean on.

Your support network will be a daily reminder that you never have to tackle anything alone.

Trust Yourself

This is, in my opinion, the most important piece of advice I could give — but also one of the toughest to do.

Throughout your life, you will be faced with tough decisions. Maybe you’re in the midst of one right now.

I’m a big proponent of seeking advice from those I most trust, but in order to make a well-informed decision you can’t take every piece of advice at face value. You have to be able to mold others’ advice and make it fit with your passions, needs, and desires.

Plus, don’t forget about the most important person to seek advice from: yourself.

You’re walking on that stage because you earned it. Trust your schooling, trust your experiences, and trust yourself. As long as you put all your effort, talent, and passion into your decisions, you’re going to be just fine.

Still looking for job after graduation? Visit our careers page to see if there’s a position that fits you.