Spring is here, which means all around the country graduating college seniors are getting ready to embark into the great unknown, AKA, the “real world.” Congratulations, graduates—things are about to get more exciting, confusing, heartbreaking, thrilling, etc… than you could have ever imagined.

As my five-year reunion looms ever closer, I am filled with a sense of reflection and nostalgia. The knowledge I have gleaned over the years has given me a perspective on life that I could never have imagined before. All of my assumptions about life and careers are now viewed in an entirely different light.

Although I still have much to learn, here are a few of the teachings I’ve discovered since my college graduation:

1. Mentors are all around you.

During college and in the early stages of your career, you might have heard about a mythical being known as a mentor. It’s said that they can be incredibly influential in helping set and achieve lofty professional goals—and it’s true! However, don’t get sidetracked searching for unicorns; pursue people who will provide meaningful guidance to help take your life to greater heights. You don’t have to be an experienced CEO or a senior executive in your company to act as a mentor. Your peers, with their fresh perspectives and eagerness to help, can become powerful advocates and advise-givers who offer tremendous support along the way. Mentorship is not restricted by age or any other criteria – mentors come in many forms!

2. Although advice from others can be beneficial, the ultimate choice for your actions rests solely with you.

As you age, it’s normal to feel overwhelmed with the number of choices and decisions that come your way. It can be tempting to lean on the wisdom of those around us for guidance; however, don’t let this stop you from making a decision yourself. Gather all the feedback available but ultimately make sure to stick by what feels right in your heart.

3. Expect the unexpected! Have a spirit of adventure and keep an open mind to whatever changes may come your way.

Upon graduating from university, I was confident that the professorship would be my career path. After taking a gap year to explore Paris, learn French, and work in art-related fields, I returned to America with the assurance of finishing a Ph.D. in Art History. Nevertheless, when I quit this Ph.D. program for the startup world it proved one of the most rewarding decisions to date! It took me a full year to make the decision, but I ultimately chose not to go back – even if they were willing to pay me. Hence, you could never be certain of what you truly want right now; after all, our passions and paths may shift as we grow over time. And that’s exactly how it should be! Growth is an unceasing part of life and something we must embrace wholeheartedly.

4. With all those changes, you may find yourself in a perpetually searching state of mind. Note to graduating seniors: therapy is a good thing. Nothing to be embarrassed about or shy of.

As a youngster, my mentality was that therapy was something strictly for certain people. I soon understood the luxury it offered and all the potential benefits of having someone who is dedicated to helping you better yourself! If your financial situation allows, this could be an excellent decision to make; if not, numerous self-help books can provide insight as well. The truth of the matter is many successful business books essentially double as self-improvement guides too – thus, don’t be afraid of taking steps towards evolving internally either!

5. We’re all navigating the unknown and doing our best.

We can all agree that your parents, boss, and even their supervisor are still learning from life’s many lessons. As we age and accumulate more experience in our field of expertise, indeed, our fountain of knowledge expands as well. Nevertheless, every day we strive to do the best with what we have by creating something out of nothing—the pure magic of exploration! With drastic changes in the way technology and social media are disrupting industries, upper-level executives have been forced to learn quickly or be left behind. Think about it – the first brands on Facebook had no playbook of how to use this platform for marketing purposes. Yet they managed, with a combination of expertise and instinct! That’s all right because even without knowledge beforehand, you can still figure out how things work if you put your mind towards doing that. Dare to be bold, try something different, and take a leap of faith. You will inevitably come full circle to exactly where you need to be in due time.

Congratulations, graduates! You have achieved a major milestone and deserve to be proud of yourselves.

What advice would you share with someone who has just graduated from college? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Ask Shama Kabani, CEO & Founder of The Marketing Zen Group, what she wishes someone had told her when she first graduated!

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