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  • Matthew Frank
    Matthew Frank

    How Do I Decide On My Next Big Step After Graduating College?

    Dear eNotAlone: I just graduated from college and can barely contain my excitement! After four hard years of studying, internships, and general stress-filled days and nights, I'm finally able to call myself an educated adult. However, I feel like now that I've done all of this work, I'm expected to just know what comes next and decide on my next big step. But I'm feeling more anxious than ever. What kind of career am I supposed to pursue? How do I decide which path is right for me? I feel completely lost and scared as I stare out into the unknown future.

    * * *

    You've worked hard and those long nights of cramming for exams and struggling through internship programs have come to an end. Congratulations! You've already accomplished a huge feat. If you're feeling a bit adrift, that's very normal and there are many actions you can take to help you make the best decision for you and your future.

    First, it's important to collect as much information about possible career paths as you can. Research job roles, read about career trends, and learn more about different industries. Reach out on social media or to trusted advisors in these sectors to get insight on what it's actually like to work in any given field. You may find that you're not cut out for a certain role or that a particular field might be the perfect fit. In addition, you may find insight into roles that you'd never previously considered.

    Second, consider what your interests are and which skills you may want to develop. Think about the qualities you've utilized in your previous job roles and which life events may have shaped your outlook. What do you value in a job, and what will make you truly passionate? There may be a safe option available to you, but if it doesn't get your heart racing and motivate you to excel, then it may not be the best path to take.

    Third, take time to reflect on what steps you've taken in the past and trust yourself going forward. You've faced making decisions before and can do so again. Drawing on the confidence you've gained during college, resign yourself to the idea that you're completely capable of making a great choice. Have faith in yourself and use the experience and knowledge you accumulated while in school to help guide your decision.

    You should also remember that life happens and there's no one-size- fits-all approach to finding a career path. If you pick a route and later realize it's not a good fit, step back and try something new. Chances are you'll gain invaluable knowledge and insights about yourself and the world along the way. There's no need to worry if you stumble or take your time looking for the best fit. Pursue something that ignites a flame inside of you and that you'll pour your heart and soul into. That's when you truly will know it's the right career for you.

    Graduation signifies the end of one stage of life and the beginning of another. Take the time to determine the right path and remember that there are resources available to help. Talk to experienced professionals, trusted advisors, and family members who can provide insight and feedback. The choice you make is deeply personal, so don't lose yourself while trying to please others. In no time, you'll be able to cast away any doubts and confidently move into the next chapter of your life.

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