The reality of a second semester senior at Tulane
Adult? Never heard of it
If you’re like me – an unemployed full-time student who’s about to be out of the ability to use the excuse of being a student to stay unemployed – then you know how it feels.
To be panicked. To be lost and confused. To have no idea what business casual is.
It’s the realization and recognition that everything you do this year, if not directly correlated to networking and the job search or the grad school app (or a closet of business casual), is utterly pointless. And yet you still have to do it.
It’s the feeling of propelled stagnancy- of kicking your feet and moving your arms as fast and as hard as you possibly can to gain an inch when you need a mile. When first time job offers feel like a marathon of being told no in the hopes of one day being told yes. Every moment you know that you are being ushered out the door and out into the “real world” by professors and friends telling you that this “doesn’t really apply to you anymore,” (when they tell you how to properly cite a bibliography) but you haven’t been granted access to sweet freedom just yet, so you do still have to pay attention (and yes – properly cite the sources).
I daydream of scenarios where professionals, in my very first job interview, ask to see all those papers I procrastinated all night on and somehow managed to pull an A-. And then I realize that that will never happen. Because those things are the miscellaneous skills of school and not the tools of the trade for being your own person. If I’ve learned most of what there is to know about assignments, about grading, and about budgeting my time to reap what you sew then I’m resolving to make second semester about the bigger picture. About the life lessons.
So here’s a list of five things I’m endeavoring to do, figure out, and find out about myself to prep for the real world while I’m stuck in the chaotic neutral limboland of senior year…
This can be as simple as taking day trips out on your own to parts of your neighborhood you’ve never seen and always promised yourself you’d visit; I’ve been privileged to live in incredible cities like New York, New Orleans, and Edinburgh and I refuse to waste my time in them.
Besides the fact that traveling, near or far, teaches you what it’s like to be by yourself and who you are when no one’s watching (or at least when no one you know is watching), it may come in handy as good practice when you score that dream job that pays you to travel to new and exotic places every other weekend. And it never hurts to learn your way around public transportation.
Get good at talking to strangers
Networking is one of the scariest (and also apparently most pertinent) skills to getting a job and becoming an adult (whatever that is…), but being brave enough to strike up conversations with any random stranger gives you the small skills needed to be able to move to new cities and create whole livelihoods in unknown places.
You never know the people you might meet and how they can play a role in your life later on, but it also forces you out of the comfort zone of hiding away in your iPhone or pretending that you’re on a desolate island (you’re not, fyi). Pushing these boundaries will make you better at making friends in new cities or introducing yourself to your new boss. Plus, you might surprise yourself and have some fun.
Wake up earlier
I may not be a night owl, but I’m certainly not a morning person. I think that one of the keys to ~having your life together~ is having a daily routine and a schedule, you not only manage, but thrive on.
This probably means that the way I wake up twelve minutes before class (2 to dress, 3 for hygiene, 2 for coffee, 5 to walk) isn’t exactly the most competent of morning routines…so for me this means recognizing that even though I may have difficulty waking up at the crack of dawn, I do my best work before lunch and will never get a thing done past dinner. As much as I may lament having to “retrain my body clock” (as my mom so often nags me), I know it’ll suit me all the better in the professional world. And a little more structure never hurts.
Build a relationship with money
So often I think that people, particularly college students, have a relationship with money that is solely built on use – they use their money but they don’t feel connected to it. Drop some on coffee here, lunch later, and five shots tonight – you “didn’t really spend any money today.” Sure it can give you real pleasure to receive a check of hard-earned hours working or a high when you score (aka buy) a kickass new pair of jeans, but you have to feel somewhat emotionally attached to your money to use it wisely.
Maybe this means that we seniors should be setting up yearly finance plans You need to take pride in the work that earns the check as well as the fear of God if it ever runs out.
Pick any ‘adult’ type person thing’s brain
I may not treat them with the respect of people who were once exactly where I am now, but the truth is that I know I can ask any adult I’m close with to tell me anything about their jumpstart into the real world- heartbreaks and hookups, the best and worst bosses, or the rat-filled neighborhood where my mom was considered one of the locals, and so, never had her car broken into (hello 80’s NYC).
So this semester I’m going to start asking them the big and small questions, the random ones I may never experience but will be better for understanding.