Things to know about the 'real world'

What should you know when you graduate from college?

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1. Your First Job Won’t Be Your Dream Job
Getting an entry level position in your industry of choice will be very difficult. If you are fortunate enough to get one, it won't be easy or glamorous. It will likely be menial or administrative labor, which don't require a college degree or the skills you've worked so hard to acquire. The first couple of years, this will be the path to your dream job if you're lucky. The ones who aren’t as fortunate will have to take a job in another industry entirely, and hopefully transition in a year or two. They may have to backtrack to the beginning, putting themselves years and positions behind people in their class year.

If you don't get an entry level position in your industry, think about the skill sets that make you indispensable in your desired industry, and try to get a job in a position that has overlap in skill sets.

2. The Path Is Not Paved
In college, it is very clear what you need to do to be successful. There are course requirements, assignments, office hours, GPAs that need to be earned to be accepted to certain programs, etc. The 'real world' is not as clear. Most work environments are not structured, and sometimes goals are not given. It will be up to you to decide how you will achieve what is necessary in your job and in life. It is a scary and exciting journey.

3. Your 20s Are Tough
There are hard and easy aspects to this decade, but the truth is you're not going to be a fully defined person because you received your diploma. Some of you may not know what you want to do with your careers or some of you may be coming to a crossroads concerning a personal relationship. When you move into your new apartment in a familiar or brand new place to start a new chapter of your life, the first thing you begin to appreciate is how much you don’t know. It is hard to reconcile, because you just worked really hard and paid a lot of money for a diploma that is supposed to prove the opposite.

Compared to when you will get older, you have fewer responsibilities. But you now will have more responsibilities than you have ever had before, and it is overwhelming when you are still growing up. Just know you will have personal and professional failures, and everyone does, even when it seems like you are the only one who is having them. What truly achieves success is not how you succeed, but how you handle failure. I hope you learn a lot.

4. Your Friends Are Not Your Family
At college, especially if you went to school far away, your friends were your family. They were your support system, and your constant companions. After graduation, your best friends are no longer down the hall, across campus or saving you a seat at dinner. If you are lucky you live in the same city, or even the same state. But even so maintaining friendships becomes a commitment. Time has to be managed, created and dedicated to them, something that wasn’t difficult before- your activities inevitably intertwine. In the next few years you will discover which of your collegiate friendships that will carry into your adult life, or those that will remain part of your college memories.

People change. You will change. It's not something to be afraid of, but to understand because it is a constant. This is your chance to cultivate a life of your choosing: a career, a personal relationship and friendships. You have control over who you want in your life, and who you do not. It is empowering, but at times it will be heartbreaking. If you're lucky you will have a few friends you can call family, and know that in your hour of need they would be there, no questions asked. You learn to be grateful for the relationships that last, and not the ones that change.

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This article was written by Frances Bridges from Forbes and was licensed as an article reprint. Article copyright April 30, 2015 by Forbes.
The statements and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author. Fidelity Investments cannot guarantee the accuracy or completeness of any statements or data.
This reprint is supplied by Fidelity Brokerage Services LLC, Member NYSE, SIPC.
The third party provider of the reprint permission and Fidelity Investments are independent entities and not legally affiliated.
The images, graphs, tools, and videos are for illustrative purposes only.
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