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Reverse senioritis

Facing fears of the real world

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A good friend of mine recently began her dream job working at the glamorous TimeWarner building in Manhattan. "So this is it," she told me on the phone after her first day. "This is what I'll be doing for the rest of my life."

It's not that she wasn't thrilled to be living in the Big City (although what she was paying for rent could have easily allowed her to live in a posh loft here in Atlanta) or that she wasn't happy with her new job. "I just miss you girls," she cried, referring to the group of gal pals we had hung around with since our very first month of college four years ago.

The months after graduation are obviously difficult, and in more ways than one. Even for freshly employed graduates like my friend, the transition from the quad to the real world is nerve-racking. Let's face it: The past 20 or so years were all pretty much preplanned, and the future seems to be all about improvisation. But there's no need to be bummed out; just because you might be committing yourself to a 9-to-5 doesn't mean all the fun is going to disappear from your life. Sure, college was awesome, but there's no reason the professional life can't be just as great.

For starters, brush up on that résumé. You're probably going to spend the next few months heading to job interviews, and the better the résumé looks, the fewer of those interviews you'll have to endure. You might not land your dream job right off the bat, but remember: You are a hot commodity. You'll be relieved when you get that first job offer, but make sure it's the right decision before settling. The transition into postgrad life will be that much easier if you like where you work and the people you work with.

Don't let it get you down when your friends start packing up their stuff and moving all around the country. Consider their new destinations excellent future vacation locales. My friends and I started a daily e-mail chain, filling each other in on what's going on in our lives and asking each other questions about postgrad life like what health-care plan I should choose or how to negotiate a salary. Just because the posse is more spread out now doesn't mean the support system you've depended on for the last four years is suddenly lost; it's just up to you to keep in touch now.

Think of it as networking practice.

Moving out of the dorms or your old apartment and into new digs in a new city can be terrifying. Don't just cross your fingers and hope the apartment you found on Craigslist is in a good neighborhood in your new and unfamiliar city. Do your homework. You know how you spend hours stalking your grade-school crushes on Facebook and MySpace; consider using those sites to meet people in your new city. A recent grad I know moved out to California and was terrified because she didn't know a soul, but a little clicking around Facebook showed her that quite a few people she went to high school with and more than a few "friends of friends" lived in the area.

The weirdest part of postgrad life is that you probably spent most of college admiring how grown-up you were. I know I did. Now, instead of just acting grown-up, you have to actually be a grown-up. But don't worry; you're still young enough to take chances and do something wild, like move to a new city and make a whole new group of friends. Even though instability is just as much a part of graduation as the cap and gown, you've learned before how to be successful in new and scary environments – remember when you were just a little frosh?

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