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I Just Graduated… Now What?

I just graduated now what
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Here at the AfterCollege Blog, our goal is pretty simple: to help college students and recent grads figure out what they might like to do with their lives and how to make that happen. So we were pretty excited when we heard about Katherine Schwarzenegger’s book, I Just Graduated… Now What? (out April 1, 2014 on Crown Archetype).

Not only does Katherine tackle a lot of the same topics that we do, but she does so through interviews with celebrities and business leaders like Anderson Cooper, Serena Williams, and Blake Mycoskie (founder of TOMS shoes).

This is the type of book you don’t have to read cover to cover—you can just flip through and read the interviews that spark your interest. But I found so many interesting tidbits (Anderson Cooper was a male model?! DJ Armin Van Buuren was supposed to be a lawyer?!) that I ended up reading every section just so I didn’t miss anything.

Even though it’s been a few (ahem) years since I graduated, I learned a lot from this book. It’s so fascinating that sometimes people’s advice can be contradictory—for example, Sara Blakely, the founder of Spanx, shares that caring too much about other people’s opinions can be destructive, whereas Ben Kaufman, the founder of Mophie and Quirky, tries to gather as many opinions and as much data as he possibly can when developing a new product.

I’ve observed the same thing when interviewing people for the AfterCollege Blog. Some people suggest generalizing is the way to go in your undergraduate studies. Others suggest specializing is much better. Others, like Patrick Neeman, suggest developing a “T” set of skills, where you both generalize and specialize. The point is not to get frustrated by all this conflicting advice, but to find the lessons that are relevant to you and your career path.

I also loved the practical chapters at the end of the book that cover topics like finances and the psychological effects of moving back in with your parents. Being aware of these issues and having a few strategies to deal with common hurdles will make your life after college so much more manageable.

And you might think the author, Katherine Schwarzenegger, has it easy because she has famous parents (Maria Shriver and Arnold Schwarzenegger, no big deal), but that’s actually far from the truth. Katherine faced her own doubts, disappointments, and frustrations (including moving back in with Mom and Dad after graduating), and she talks about them candidly throughout the book.

No matter where you are in your career, there are plenty of useful lessons in this handy little book. It’s the perfect gift for college seniors, recent grads, and anyone who’d like a little help figuring out what comes next (so, like 99.9% of the population).

Melissa Suzuno, Content Marketing Manager (and not-so-recent grad) at AfterCollege

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When I first picked up Katherine Schwarzenegger’s new book, I Just Graduated… Now What?, I have to admit I was a bit skeptical. The interviewees featured are all pretty famous—as is the author herself and although I, like many members of my generation, am fascinated by celebrities’ lives, I didn’t think that they would really have anything relatable to say. What would they know about the average recent graduate’s transition into the “real world” after college?

Apparently, more than I thought.

As I read about each interviewee’s career journey, I was shocked to find that many of the stories resonated with me. Even if we didn’t share any specific recent graduate experiences, none of them had “had it easy” and they all felt that fear as they fell into the unknown after graduating.

Anderson Cooper, a man who (at least in my opinion) oozes charisma and was made for his role in broadcast journalism and hosting a talk show, was not, in fact, asked to be in front of the camera upon graduating. I was fascinated to learn where he came from, the darkness he dealt with around the time of graduating, and the huge risk he had to take to land himself in the position he’s in now.

Jared Eng of JustJared.com was not chit-chatting with celebrities and making money from his blog right out of college. He knows a lot about “non-dream jobs” and working on a side hustle in order to follow his passion.

John Legend, prior to meeting Kanye West, felt pressure to follow in his classmates’ footsteps and enter into the financial sector. He understands the importance of exploring career options and conducting informational interviews to discover if a certain path is really right for you. During his interview, he tells Katherine, “some careers sound sexier than others, and some are going to sound more fun. It’s important to get to know people in the field you want to work in so you can understand what they do and whether you would be a good fit.”

Each of the interviews collected in this book describes a different career journey. Though no two paths were the same, I found that a common thread wove its way through all of the pages.

Determination.

Not one of these people sat back and wished for their jobs. Some may have stumbled in the beginning, but in the end, they were all focused and worked relentlessly until they found their way.

After reading this book, you won’t suddenly know what you’re supposed to do after college. The interviews won’t sweep away all your insecurities or leave you with the hopeful but empty message that you need only “follow your passion” to be happy (Armin Van Buuren even recommends that you don’t put all your eggs in the DJ basket).

But what this book will give you is the knowledge that your career path may look different from your peers’ and that’s okay. It will show you the different approaches (internships, networking, side projects) that can get you to a career you want.

When you’re a recent graduate, it can feel like you’re the only one who’s “lost.” This is a book all about how that’s not the case.

Kellen McKillop, Editorial Assistant (and recent grad), AfterCollege

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