Senior year advice

Hailey Gartman is a senior at the University of South Florida located in Tampa, Florida. Graduating from the College of Arts and Sciences with a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communications, Hailey looks forward to a career as a busy public relations professional. Hailey is currently the marketing intern for a prestigious law firm in Tampa Bay. Here Hailey manages all social media accounts, creates original website copy, assembles Power Point presentations, creates attorney CVs and much more.
Hailey is also employed in the customer service industry at a popular gastro-pub in the heart of south Tampa. She is a foodie, fashion and fun enthusiast.

Approaching graduation, as I very well know, can be a chaotic and bittersweet time in life. Here it is. The time you have been waiting for, been working diligently for, more or less your entire life. You grew up going to school because you had to and then you grew up and went to school because you chose to. You had all these dreams, all these aspirations and wants in life, and so you went to college.

A few years later (we all know how varying this number is) it comes time to walk across that stage, to grab that fake diploma that stands for a real diploma, and then…and then…and then, what?

There is so much more freedom to be chosen than you probably even realize. And while most everyone knows of the wary comfort zone breach, nothing can compare to the scare of freedom of choice. The options in front of you are literally endless, no matter your degree. Stay positive in your job search, whether you start it six months before graduation, six months after graduation, or six years after graduation. Stay positive.

Right next to positivity, remember to be open in your job search. Accept terms with reality that you are majorly NOT likely to score your first job/dream job combo right out the gate. It just isn’t how things work. You are simply put, a freshman in the real world. But don’t worry too much, you are among the 40% of Americans with a college degree, and that says a lot.

One thing that I really remind myself, for assurance sake, is that as I am trekking on this scary path into the real world, not one single person is traveling on the same path. Not one. Every single person you know or don’t know has a different life to live than you. You are impossible to compare. It is important to remember that nobody has the same timeline and to not let yourself get discouraged when your sorority sister gets a job three months before you all even graduate. That’s just not your path.

Remember that you still have room for mistakes, no matter how old you get. Take the chance on that freelance position, relocate for that European company, or go back to your parent’s house and serve tables to hustle off those student loans. Follow the steps that take you down your path. Make small goals that lead to those big goals. I am a big advocate for the five-year-plan, but much more in the form of a five-year-sketch. You absolutely cannot plan everything, but you can prepare and hope and dream. Make yourself a rough outline.

All in all, approaching college graduation can evoke a mess of emotions, and as Britney Spears would say, “You’re not a girl, not yet a woman”. Don’t feel pressured or expect to immediately be a respected professional making six figures. Don’t expect to not worry when the rent is due anymore or that you will never have to take orders from anyone. Take the steps and pay the dues, it is bound to pay off, in your time.

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