Stepping off the stage with your diploma is an awesome feeling. It’s often quickly followed by a feeling of confusion and uncertainty.
Turning Off Autopilot
Our lives are on the autopilot setting for the first twenty years (or so). We’re given a direction and goals from our families, schools and culture. When we graduate college though, we’re faced with a decision that usually falls on us to make individually: what’s next?
After we learn to crawl, we learn to walk. After that, we learn to talk. After we learn to talk we start school. We make it to high school and after that, we traipse off to college. But what comes after college? There is no easy answer. And that’s the hardest part of graduating college. There is no obvious answer to our questions of direction and purpose. We have to decide that for ourselves. It’s not something that can be decided for us all the time.
Unbound prepared us for this situation to some degree by drawing us away from convention for its own sake. Unbound challenged us to start making independent decisions while we were still studying. It fostered in us a mindset of freedom, intentionality, and creative problem-solving.
What if we kept thinking outside the box after graduation? What if we held onto that special independence and innovative spirit beyond our studies. What if we applied it to our careers and lives?
What could we do? What could we accomplish?
Applying the Unbound mindset to finding work:
According to The Balance Careers, most companies are looking for candidates with good communication skills, critical thinking, and interpersonal/leadership capabilities. Software skills like empathy, positive attitude, and creative problem-solving are valuable to companies looking to get a leg up in today’s competitive industries. Thankfully, as Unbound graduates, we’ve spent our college education learning how to quickly master complicated information (a favorite phrase of Jonathan Brush). We’ve learned how to face challenges as individuals and take responsibility for moving ourselves forward. This habit of taking ownership is wildly valuable to employers who can’t afford to micro-manage their millennial employees.
Unbound taught us to take ownership for our choices and forge our own path, overcoming challenges as we did so. It taught us to think about solutions to problems with a creative mind and taught us that sometimes (most times?) the best ideas are outside the box. We can practically apply that same mindset to career development. Finding a job can be as simple as finding a way to line our skills and strengths up with someone else’s needs. Providing value to an employer is a simple concept (though not always easy to practically execute).
Pursuing the adventure of life
If there’s one thing Unbound taught me, it’s this: everything in life has the potential to be a grand adventure because it is life. Unbound turned the drudgery of earning credits, taking exams, and studying for hours a day into an exciting adventure. While I studied with Unbound, I had a clear vision of my goals and the purpose of my degree. This contributed to an amazing sense of adventure, a feeling that even though I was doing school at home, I was doing something crazy. That’s a special feeling.
Chances are slim that our post-college lives will immediately be glamorous and intrepid. It’ll probably look a lot like getting up, working, grocery-shopping, paying bills, and doing day-to-day things on a, well, day-to-day basis.
But thanks to our experiences with Unbound, we’re able to confront these daily challenges with a sense of dynamic determination. Life is an adventure. Every moment of it.
Embracing community beyond graduation
Just like your need for food, water, and sleep won’t end when you turn your tassel, neither will your need for strong community. No one can do life on their own, isolated. We all needed each other’s support while earning our degrees. We still need that.
Sure. Community looks different after college. Your priorities change. But we all still to surround ourselves with people who are pouring into us and who we can pour into. The need for community never expires.
And now it’s time for a shameless plug:
APEX: The Unbound Blitz is designed to help students (and ALUMNI!) set audacious goals and practically accomplish them. Don’t move beyond the degree without a community. Come to APEX and find a group of dedicated alumni to support you as you take the next step beyond your degree.
Living Unbound shouldn’t stop with the cap & gown
Life is too short to let other people make your decisions. Turn off autopilot. Start applying the independent Unbound mindset to life beyond college. Take the job search by the horns and conquer it. See the adventure in the mundane and live it. Find a community and invest in it. “Be Unbound” isn’t enough.