Contemplation and Reflection upon Graduation

So I finished 5 and a half years of college on Thursday. I completed my last test, turned it in, walked outside and sat on a bench. I had no idea what to do next.

I really can’t describe the feeling of being done. I wasn’t overcome with the need to celebrate, go get hammered….nothing. I just felt kind of empty. Hit by a realization that my education that had been a part of my daily life for the past 6 (and 12 more before that) years, was finally over. I hate to say that I actually feel like I am going to miss being in school.

I have always said that I was looking forward to graduation because I wanted to work a job, come home at night and not have homework to deal with. But is that really the case? In reality, its just making me feel, well….old. My way of celebrating graduation was to go home, drink half a bottle of nyquil, and sleep for 14 hours. WTF is going on with me?

Graduation is another milestone, right of passage, and through achieving it I have been institutionalized to believe that I am now capable of handling everything the real world is about to throw at me. I can design and implement an Information System from the ground up. I can create 20 pages of Data Flow Diagrams for said system. I can design a complete PHP-based SDSU student community website and put together a fully functional marketing plan for it. I can tell you how to set up a subnet on a campus network, decide what type of firewall would be most effective for it, and install it. Hell, I am even in a Professional Business Fraternity that has completely prepared me for job interviews, presentations, business etiquette….right?

Wrong

I am prepared for nothing.

I don’t have a job lined up, I don’t have anything set in stone. The only thing I am really assured of right now is that I have no idea what I’m doing or what to do. I guess this $50,000 education really paid off! However, that depressing and confused diatribe aside, there are a few things I’ve learned that I know will help me succeed in the coming month…education or not. The following things I didn’t learn from any book I read…more from actual experience bullshitting my way out of one compromising situation or another:

  1. Take Responsibility. For EVERYTHING YOU DO. Even if you really don’t. Let me explain…This one has helped me get out of trouble more times than I can count, but only when dealing with adults. By adults, I mean someone older, roughly 40+. Its simple, really, if you think about. Everyone has an excuse for everything. Why you were late, why you didn’t turn in the homework, why you missed class. Well, adults are sick of hearing it. So turn the tables with a little reverse psychology. If you mess up, tell the authority that you take complete responsibility for your actions, and you have no one to blame but yourself. Most people are so shocked to hear someone actually own up to their own mistakes (apparently its such a rarity in todays society), that it will get you off the hook. If you don’t believe me, just try it. 60% of the time, it works every time.
  2. Don’t believe anything that school counselors tell you. LOOK IT UP YOURSELF! I can’t tell you how many times I have been screwed around by a counselor who told me to take one class or another, which ended up completely wrong. The schools try and make graduation requirements as confusing as possible to trick you into taking additional classes so they can make more money off of you. Avoid this whole problem: go online, get the requirements yourself and figure it out. That way, you can take it to the counselor yourself and show them what you are doing to graduate.
  3. Approach everyone that you meet as a potential networking opportunity. Look at everyone with the question “What can they do for me”. You never know what hook ups someone is going to have, or where they might work. Listen to what they have to say, because it just might pay off. I really had this reinforced by my buddy Nick Urbani, over at eBoost.  He is a networking/schmoozing genius, and him and I have had a lot of success with this technique.  For example, I just met some drunk idiot at a bar a couple weeks ago, and when he found out I was a web designer he went off for 15 minutes about this great idea for a website he had. I let him ramble and pretty much ignored everything he said. At the end of his inebriated rant, I found out he was a distributor for a beer company and was doing a promotion at the bar that night. I ended up getting all my drinks comped. Case in point, do what my dad told me…at any job, meet and get to know everyone at every level of the company, because you never know when it might come in handy knowing the janitor or a secretary.
  4. In a job interview, keep the interviewer talking as much as possible. My dad taught me this too, and I have tried to use it in every interview I have had recently. The more you keep the interviewer talking, the more they will remember you. They also dont pay attention to shortcomings in your resume or interviewing skills, but will remember what you had in common. (Hopefully this tip will get me a job in the upcoming month).

Im sure I will have more to add to this list sooner or later. These were just some things I had to get off my mind. I hope everyone has a great Holiday, and wish me luck in the upcoming job search!

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