College is often referred to as the best years of your life. So leaving the college world after graduation and entering the real world can be stressful and upsetting, especially if, like the majority of college graduates, you do not have your dream job set to start immediately after you get your diploma. However, these first few stressful years of post-college life can be crucial to learning what kind of professional you are, what career you truly want, and build a strong professional network. Being open to continuing your education in a less structured manner and looking for new opportunities can be just as helpful as your college education.
Whether or not you have a job set up after graduation, it can be extremely helpful to set up informational interviews with people who you find to have interesting careers. These interviews are a great way to network, learn more about alternative careers, and find out about possible job opening in the future. Unpaid internships, while not ideal to a fresh college graduate, are also a great way to learn valuable job skills while getting an opportunity to network and get more information about the world of work.
Once you do have a post-graduation job, it is important to look at it as yet another learning opportunity, rather than the beginning of your career. Don't focus on your job title--focus on what you can gain from any job you have. Be humble- don't assume that just because you have a college degree you know everything you need to make your career. Showing you want to grow and learn new things will both advance your career and ensure that you get involved in a job you truly care about.
Finding a mentor (or several) is another crucial step in professional advancement after college. A mentor should be a person that you respect and that can help you grow within your profession. Having a mentor that can teach you valuable skills, connect you to important people, and most of all, serve as a role model, can be a hugely valuable asset to a recent college student.
So just because you have a diploma but not a dream job earning 6-figures in a corner office, does not mean that your job after college cannot still be a meaningful and educational experience. Building leadership skills, networking, getting a clearer idea of your job aspirations, and learning new professional skills are all valuable things that come from any job. Keeping an open mind and trying new experiences will get you to your coveted job, or even one you didn't even think to consider!