Sarah Morgan is a Wealth Planning Associate in our Toronto office. She shares the five things she wishes she knew when she graduated from post-secondary school.
5 Things I Wish I Knew Coming Out of School
By Sarah Morgan, Wealth Planning Associate
It feels like you spend your whole life preparing to go to university or college but are given very little expectation of what happens when it ends. You’ve spent so long working towards this very big goal that it can be hard to handle the transition that comes afterward. Now you must navigate very different environments, routines, and support systems. You’re not alone if you’re in this stage of life and feeling a little lost. As someone who graduated not long before the ensuing pandemic and faced doing her graduate studies online, I’m still figuring it all out. So, to everyone that is a recent grad or soon-to-be, here are five things that I wish I knew coming out of school.
1. This is a transitional period and all those feelings you’re feeling are normal.
You’ve been working your whole life for this pinnacle moment of graduation. You’ve had the same goal for upwards of eighteen years and a clear path to achieving it. School kept you structured and disciplined. Now that you’re out of the environment you’ve grown comfortable with, it’s easy to feel lost and confused. You may have moved home, moved away from your close friends, and are actively searching for work and a new routine. Just know you are not alone, and all those feelings about finding your purpose and discovering yourself in this new environment are entirely normal.
2. Don’t put pressure on yourself to pay off your student loans right away.
If you used student loans to help pay for your post-secondary education, it can make graduation feel that much more overwhelming. It’s important to stay on top of your loan payments but don’t set unrealistic expectations on yourself to pay off your debt by a certain date. A sustainable payoff plan where you continue to live your life is essential. Don’t let a negative connotation associated with debt make you feel trapped by your situation. You are not bad with your money for having these loans and they shouldn’t keep you from doing other things with your money such as travelling, saving, and treating yourself when it counts.
3. Don’t compare your path with that of your peers.
Once you leave the confined walls of the classroom, you can finally explore different lifestyles than your peers. This may include living in new places, working in various industries and jobs, and potentially starting a family. The possibilities are endless. Although this can be an exciting time for self-exploration and self-discovery, it can also lead to an unhealthy comparison between yourself and your peers. Everyone likely suffers from this at some point, but know that nothing is as it seems online, and there is no right path to navigating this time post-graduation. Try your best to avoid societal pressures or outside influence and stay true to yourself.
4. Each new job will have a learning curve that school can’t prepare you for.
With any new job, but especially the first out of school, it’s important to realize that there will be a learning curve. Make sure you give yourself time to build confidence in your new position, and don’t put pressure on yourself to know everything straight away. School is drastically different from the working world, even if you studied in your field. Remember that the most rewarding work experiences come from stepping out of your comfort zone and taking on new learning opportunities, even if it may feel overwhelming. Connecting with your peers and finding mentors to support you will prove incredibly beneficial as you navigate this new workflow.
5. Building connections doesn’t stop once you’ve landed the job.
Even now that you’ve left school and potentially entered the workforce, you should never stop striving to build connections within your workplace and industry. You never know when opportunities may arise, and you want your name to appear top of mind when they do. People are much more willing to support those who show up with a positive mindset and actively engage with those around them. Make sure you’re fostering those connections well out of school and throughout your entire career. They will come in handier than any diploma or certificate ever could.
This material contains the current opinions of the author and such opinions are subject to change without notice. This material is distributed for informational purposes only. Nicola Wealth is registered as a Portfolio Manager, Exempt Market Dealer and Investment Fund Manager with the required securities commissions.