My Advice For Class of 2020 High School And College Graduates

May 15, 2020
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Mollie Kendrick

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Congratulations, you've graduated! Or you're about to. Get ready for reality to slap you in the face many times over the next ten years and beyond. 

I'm only half kidding about that. Life after graduation is SO MUCH FUN, but it's also full of twists and turns that you never saw coming. Ten years ago when I graduated from high school, if I'd known where my life would go over the next ten years I'd be totally dumbfounded. Nothing that's ever happened in my life and career has been planned. Anything that I tried to plan always went in a different direction or just didn't pan out. What I didn't know at the time is that life will never go the way you expect it to go. It doesn't matter what you have planned or what you've always dreamed of doing, because more than likely, you're going to either hate your childhood dream or there will be dozens of other people who you believe are so much more talented than you. (And it's going to be an awful feeling.) 

But you're gonna have to learn this the hard way like everyone else, and I promise you ten years from now, you're going to be so happy that all these twists and turns and unexpected events happened to you, too. The changes will make you grow. You'll learn so much about yourself. You're gonna meet a lot of people along the way who challenge you and mold you into a better version of yourself. 

Then you'll get to the point, where I am right now, where you'll realize the next ten years are probably going to be the same way...and so are the decades after that, too. 

Here's my quick advice for graduating high school seniors specifically: 

  • College will be easier than high school, but it's really going to be what you make of it. You can party and drink and goof off all you want, but if you do that, you're going to get the same lame results in return. Take your next step seriously, whether it's going to college, community college, a trade school, or taking some time to figure out what's next. Live with intention and try to see everything as a learning opportunity. 
  • Don't isolate yourself. If you're introverted like me, it can be so easy to stay home and be scared to go out into the world. When I moved to Orlando, FL for college, I did not spend a lot of time getting out and exploring the city. After having lived in my hometown for 18 years, I was pretty timid. It wasn't until the last couple months I lived there that I realized there actually were cool spots to explore. I ran out of time to experience them because I was in such a rush to return to what was comfortable for me (home). 
  • You don't have to ditch your lifelong friends from grade school, but drifting apart is also natural and totally OK. People grow, and as a result friendships change and sometimes end. Get ready to meet new people through work, concerts, at coffee shops, and random places. I've met and still keep in touch with people who I met up through roommate/housing groups, improv classes, and yes, I've met lots of new friends through Instagram. You never know where you'll meet your new best friends, but they're out there! 
  • Make time to hang out with your parents. If you have a good relationship with them, this is the moment in both of your lives where the dynamic will change just a little bit. You'll actually enjoy meeting up with your parents to have lunch and spend time with them after being away for a semester. If you've never confided in your mom or dad about relationships, you're probably going to start doing that. And if it's not relationships, it'll be politics, faith, personal or not-so-personal details. Whatever. They're your friends now, and they need that friendship just as much as you do. 
  • Life is going to move so quickly after college (or over the next few years, with or without college), and you'll wonder where the time went. I know quarantine has changed the way we view time and it feels like we're losing it very quickly, but this is basically what happens consistently in your first few years of adulthood before you feel like you need to take life more seriously. Slow down...stop and smell the roses. You'll have all of your twenties and thirties to climb the ladder, live your best life, and see the world before you feel like you need to reassess where your life is going next. 

Here's my quick advice for college graduates:

  • Get comfortable creating and constantly updating your resume. It was SO difficult for me to beef myself up to sound like someone who had all the experience in the world when I started formulating my resume. I used to hate talking about myself, and had no idea what the correct way to make a resume was. Perhaps this is a different blog post for another time, but I will say that you NEED to quit hating on yourself and start faking it 'til you make it. I'm not talking about some college admissions scandal stuff, but you need to start thinking of interviewing as MARKETING instead of just trying to find a job to pay for your Apple AirPods and Starbucks coffees. This is YOUR career we're dealing with, and it freaking MATTERS. Put yourself in the potential employer's shoes. What will catch their eye? If you don't have experience, apply anyway. What qualities do you have? What school projects did you work on that are similar to the job you're applying for? If you only have retail or food service experience, guess what? You are already in the customer service field and you should absolutely get that receptionist job...which will one day turn into office manager or account executive, etc. Retail is also sales. Yay! Look at all that experience! Just go for it. You have nothing to lose. 
  • A lot of the people you networked with in college probably can't or won't help you beyond college. Go out and network with the professionals that you actually want to work with. Most of them don't bite. If they do bite, it's probably not personal. Go for it. Talk to people. 
  • Be humble, keep your head down and stay out of drama, and put in the work. A good work ethic goes a LONG way. If you get too arrogant, reality is going to give you a nice slap in the face to put you in your place. Just be ready for that. If you don't think that's gonna happen, you're already too cocky. Get ready. 
  • You're only 22 and probably don't deserve that promotion yet. Re-read my last piece of advice. 
  • Take chances and believe you're worthy of having the life you dream of. You should stop listening to the voice inside your head that's doubting you, or to other people that are doubting you. This is YOUR life and you're in charge. 

Good luck, and congratulations! 

If you ever want more advice or are looking for a mentor, please don't hesitate to reach out to me on Instagram, @mollieonair