When I graduated from college in 2005, I was disappointed to discover that the Venn diagram between Stuff I Liked to Do and Stuff People Would Pay Me to Do contained very little overlap. Today, I understand that this is a totally normal predicament—especially when you’re in the beginning stages of your career. The important thing is to find ways to do the stuff you like regardless.
My advice to new graduates is to waste no time in carving out space for the things that make you happy. If you have fun cooking, start a YouTube channel that documents your experiments with eating on the cheap. If you like drawing comics, volunteer to teach a course for kids at a local after-school program. This is how you’ll get the experience you need to (maybe!) get paid for stuff you like doing, and meet people who are interested in the same stuff as you.
Don’t worry too much about about how all of these activities are going to add up in the long run. The most important thing I learned in my 20s is that one thing leads to another. I started a feminist pop-culture blog with my friends, which gave me the informal training (and the confidence) I needed to submit to bigger publications. I moved to a new town and joined a community garden, which introduced me to a network of people who were passionate about food and the environment. There’s not always a direct payoff, but there’s only upside to pursuing activities that interest you.
In reflecting on what I wish I’d known at 21, I got curious about what advice my wise Quartz colleagues might have to offer. Here are our newsroom’s top tips for new graduates—and for anyone else who’s pondering a fresh start.
Don’t go overboard at Ikea
My advice would be to travel light until you find the apartment (and city) you really like—don’t just buy a bunch of cheap furniture that you’ll throw out when you inevitably move the next year. Moving is expensive and awful enough as it is, trying to move furniture that you don’t really need or like will only add to your misery.
If you live in New York, never underestimate the importance of proximity to a washer and dryer. Assuming you are not a) a millionaire b) the luckiest person on earth, you probably won’t have one en suite, but definitely make sure there is one on your block, or in your basement. Related: Wash your sheets. It’s a small thing that seems annoying in the moment but which dramatically improves your home life. And makes you feel like an adult.
Lastly, invest in a good blazer. Whether you identify as male, female or in-between, a good blazer is the kind of clothing staple that you can modify a dozen different ways depending on the situation: Job interview? Check. Dinner date? Check. Just need a little confidence boost this week? Check. — Meredith Bennett-Smith, deputy editor, geopolitics
Keep your syllabi
As you flee campus for the wider world, don’t forget to take your syllabi—those listings of reading assignments and…