My advice: dealing with post-graduation blues.

It is quite common for graduates to give advice on how to become more successful at networking, or navigating around the workforce. All of that is definitely very valuable. However I wanted to write a blog about understanding the difference between the personal development that happens in university and what you learn from the struggles of being out of university. I have just returned from Carnegie Mellon Qatar‘s “Ignite” networking event, and I was asked by a student (forgot who!) “what is the one piece of advice I would give to someone who is about to graduate?”

Source: Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar Facebook page.

Source: Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar Facebook page.

I would say this: be patient. While at university you have a community of professors and student affairs staff to help you out, in real life, people are too busy to hold your hand and guide you.  There will be  times  when you feel that your life isn’t going as planned. When you feel that way, be patient and continue to work hard.

Post graduation existential crisis: rise to the challenge.

For a long time,  I was depressed thinking about whether the exciting or “unknown” part of my life is gone. When I joined finance, I realized how much I miss the other disciplines, and the option of pursuing them. In university, every day seemed to be exciting because I would learn or be a part of something new.

This only means that more effort is needed to continue to pursue your other interests. Take 15-20 minutes to read about something else before going to bed  and engage in discussions unrelated to work with your colleague. In Dubai, I’ve joined a book club in order to force myself to read for pleasure and meet new people outside work.

Don’t let your work make you feel trapped in terms of opportunity. Every now and then, think about whether you want to pursue something different for graduate school. Just thinking about other possibilities will help you stay excited about the future.

You’re on your own now. Stop comparing yourself to your class. 

Unlike many of my peers, I was not lucky enough to find a full-time job straight after graduation. I had to intern, and then intern some more.  I had friends who were living the dream after graduation, and those in an even more desperate situation than I was. However, keep in mind that that in university, you had a similar goal of getting good grades, being involved on campus and just getting a job. Now that you’ve graduated, you need to pave your own path according to your goals in life. You path is completely unique, so defining your success with reference to your classmates is a futile exercise.

Had I compared myself to the rest of my class on the basis of my salary, I would’ve easily considered myself a failure. However, I love the industry I am a part of and the future opportunities that it represents. According to my goals, I’m finally on track  – but I am sure that many of my peers would consider me not so successful. At the end of the day, if you’re growing in your own eyes, you’re on your way to success.

Your education doesn’t mean as much as you thought it would.

I was surprised that most people here in Dubai don’t know what Carnegie Mellon or Education City is. No one will treat you differently because of your education. It’s the quality of your work, your ability to learn new concepts and your dedication that will matter. Hopefully your university education has instilled those qualities in you. However, never try to define yourself as successful because you have a fancy college degree – your team at work couldn’t care less.

The Balancing act – a new challenge

Whenever you feel like the exciting parts of your life are over – think about the new challenges that lie ahead. Using your own salary to survive will make you appreciate how your parents built what they have. Paying your bills while still saving for the future will be hard. Thinking about how you want to proceed with your life, be it grad school, marriage etc will make you realize that the excitement in life is still there, it has just changed in form. Your future will only be as exciting as you imagine it to be. So stay positive.