It was a warm and sunny morning in June. I couldn’t tell you the exact date, but seeing as it was a post-Alfies event, let’s assume it was a Thursday. I woke up dazed and confused, my head pounding with the after-shock of $12 wine, and a stolen sombrero perched curiously at the foot of my bed. I slowly wiped the drool off my face, threw back what was left of the Gatorade on my bedside, and made my way over to my Advil drawer with a face full of mascara and my mind full of “what the f*ck.” Seem like any other morning-after for a student at Queen’s? You’re right, it was, except for one teeny-tiny difference: this was the morning of my Queen’s Convocation.

I was late for the ceremony itself, and even though I accidentally took a seat during the standing ovation and strutted around all afternoon with my hood on backwards, I’m pretty damn proud of myself for making it across that stage without tripping.  It’s funny to think of now, that hungover little brown girl sitting in the back row of Grant Hall had officially become a graduate. Despite my best efforts, four years and a pretty piece of paper later, I had crossed that finish line. Look, Mom, I did it! Now what?

Seriously. Now what.

Like most graduates I had no idea what to expect from the “real world”. I’d spent the last few months stressing about final-final exams, dirty dishes, dirtier laundry and, oh yeah, what the f*ck I was going to do with the rest of my life. Sure, I’d sent out a bunch of job applications and spent hours making myself a sweet, sweet, resume – but was I really ready for the real world? Sitting on that bench in Grant Hall, I sure as hell didn’t feel like it. But like every good girl knows, if you’re not feelin’ it – fake it.

I’ve only taken my first few steps in to the real world, and although I am still the furthest thing from “professional”, I’ve gotten pretty good at “faking” it. Here are some of the things I’ve taken away from it so far:

DO: Look the Part

Stauffer clothing should stay in Stauffer – chuck out those sweatpants and cheesy Queen’s-club tees (also, they’re ugly). I’m not suggesting you wear dress pants and bowties to bed every night, but get in the habit of wearing a well-fit pair of pants in your day to day. Dressing a bit professional helps trick your brain in to feeling like one too.

DON’T: Hermit

So you’re back in your hometown, with your hometown friends, in your hometown life. Cool, now break out of your f*cking bubble. Sure, it’s great to see everyone again, but you’re in your 20’s now and there’s a whole league of people out there with some pretty sweet advice to share. Join a club or team, and get to know young professionals who’ve been in the “real world” a little longer than you. They could open your eyes to opportunities, advice, or job possibilities you never even knew existed (seriously, a “Marketing Manager for a Traveling Circus” is actually the sweetest job that I had never heard of).

DO: Things

Make the most of being “funemployed” and do things – seriously, anything. Work out, job hunt, volunteer – just don’t sit on your ass all day, cuddling a bag of Cheetos while watching re-runs of The Office. Be adventurous and try a job that’s out of your field and comfort zone – a friend of mine with a BA in Biomedical Sciences took a year off to work as a Hostess on a cruise ship, and considers it the best decision of her entire fucking life. True story.

DON’T: Be Cocky

I applied to well over a hundred jobs, and heard back from a grand total of… three. The reality is that initially, no one gives a shit about you. Yeah, you’re a graduate from a fine school with a fine degree – now get in line with the hundreds of kids just like you. Don’t expect a job to just be sitting there, wrapped up and ready for you to sashay towards it, you have to look and hunt hard to get those three out of a hundred – but the hunt is worth it in the end. And that, ladies and germs, brings me to my last point.

DO: Be Positive

Rewind a few months, look past the hordes of fourth years neck deep in grad school apps and travel plans, and you’ll find me: a confused little n00b with no plans set for the “real world” ahead of me. I had heard countless horror stories about it’s merciless hours, brutal bosses, and office-bitch-coffee-runs – and although I was so close I could almost taste it, I was in no rush to jump on the bandwagon.

Everything changed the day I met her. She was a friend of a friend, in her twenty-somethings, and changed my perspective by simply telling me she loved her job. “Wait, what? You like your job? What the fuck is wrong with you! Did they pay you to say that? Do you work for the government? You, like, a spy or some shit?” But nope, she was interning at a bank, and she actually liked her job. And as for me? Having spent the last few months working as a Teacher, Staff Writer, and now, a Web Editor –I really love my job too.

So when you’re sitting in the back row of Grant Hall, hungover as hell, praying you don’t trip up as you waltz across that convocation stage, remember – the real world really isn’t that scary and you are ready for it. The only person you have to trick/fake in to believing that is YOU. Post-grad is all about understanding what you do (and don’t) want from life, so know that even though you’re no longer inside a lecture hall – you’re still learning.  Every internship, overtime hour, and baby step will take you where you need to go – especially if you want to be a Marketing Manager for a Traveling Circus, cause that’s pretty fucking dope.

Yours Creatively,

Z, Founder of Muse Magazine 

Disclaimer: I like to get black out drunk, wear beer bottles as hats, and eat poutine for breakfast – I am not a professional and don’t intend on tricking you in to thinking I am. In fact, I’ll be back to floating around Kingston once my contract is up – but my encounters with the “real world” have been so awesome, however brief, that they were too damn good not to share.

Image Source(s): Kate Moss as Marlene Dietrich by Mert + Marcus, Vanity Fair Sept ’06, “Pulchronomics” from Getty Images

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