I remember my first day of sophomore year very clearly. I walked into my introductory Public Relations class, found an empty spot and scanned the room to see hundreds of other students waiting in their seats. The professor starts the class, introduces himself and eventually asks the class, “So, how many of you are PR majors?” Hundreds of students, including me, raised their hands.
Surprisingly, that was a significant moment for me. I had to see it with my own eyes to realize that many others have the same goals as me in a competitive industry, which meant the pressure was on. I felt intimidated, insecure and anxious about my future.
I’m sure that most of you have experienced worry and uncertainty about post-graduate life. Maybe you fear becoming unemployed after graduation. Or feel like a failure after scrolling on LinkedIn. Or feel undeserving of your accomplishments. This sense of worry is called career anxiety.
You may be asking yourself, how do I deal with this anxiety? How do I manage to be proud of my successes compared to my classmates? How can I remain motivated and confident to reach my career goals? How do I know if this major is right for me?
Stephanie Stama, licensed psychologist and Assistant Director of Community Education & Outreach at Penn State, provided me with 3 tips on managing career anxiety. These tips helped me deal with my anxiety, and if you have asked yourself the same questions, I hope these tips help you too.
One piece of advice from Stama is to live authentically and lead your decisions by your values. “No matter where your career path begins or leads you, living a value-driven life can guide you toward meaning and fulfillment in and out of the workplace. Check in with yourself and reassess your values every now and then: people grow and change and their needs and values may shift too,” said Stama.
College may be the first step in your long-anticipated career journey, and that gap between school and your dream job can be scary. Stama recommends, “Be patient and kind with yourself and trust the process. Major life transitions are stressful as it is! The more pressure that is placed on your first role being a ‘dream job,’ the less enjoyable it becomes. Follow your values (not the values of others!) and you’re more likely to find fulfillment.”
Recognize and appreciate the things that make you happy in the present moment. “Research has shown that happiness comes from accepting your emotions as they are and from prioritizing engagement in positive experiences and activities (which also speaks to living by your values). Consequently, people who are overly concerned about happiness levels and focus on striving for a concept of happiness are actually less likely to attain it,” says Stama.
Let us know @VALLEYmag if these tips helped you like they helped me, or have any pieces of advice of your own you’d like to share.