It’s that time of year again — the weather’s warming up, the pollen count is high, and the most recent crop of college graduates are about to be released into the wild. It’s an exciting but potentially intimidating time for these newly minted members of the workforce, as they try and strike a balance between finding a career with meaning that also pays the bills.

We asked the Thrive Community to think back to when they were just embarking on their professional journeys — what advice or knowledge do they have now that they wish they knew then? Here are some of our favorite pieces of advice for this year’s graduating class:

Don’t worry if you don’t follow a clear career path

“Not everyone gets a job with the degree that they graduated with, and that’s perfectly okay. It’s also okay to leave a job that you don’t like or doesn’t resonate with you. Do not be afraid to quit something that someone else wanted for you if it doesn’t make you happy. It’s okay to go seek out what your heart is yearning for, whether it’s an adventure, a new job, a new love on the other side of the world, etc., Long story short, don’t be afraid to follow your soul; it will lead you on the biggest adventure of your life, and if you’re open to that, you won’t regret the magic that comes your way.”

—Olya Barnett, personal growth coach, Philadelphia, PA

Expand your circle and comfort level

“When you walk into a room, don’t gravitate to the people you know — find the people you don’t know yet and expand your circle, your knowledge and your comfort level.”

—Susan J. Hilger, leadership and life coach, St. Petersburg, Florida

Don’t be so hard on yourself

“Find comfort in knowing that, most likely, your first few jobs will be an effort towards understanding what environment, culture, salary, city, daily tasks, and purpose will work for you, not against you. Don’t be so hard on yourself if you don’t feel overwhelming passion as you work to figure it all out. You will figure it all out. Extracting the positive and negative pieces of experience is the best way to do that.”

—Melissa Muncy, content marketing, San Francisco, CA

Follow your moral compass

“Stay true to your values, no matter what. Early on in your career, you may feel pressured to sacrifice your values for the sake of progress or opportunities, but this will ultimately lead to frustration and disappointment. Respect yourself enough to pursue opportunities that are aligned with your values and allow you to be your authentic self. Play the long game and success will follow.”

—Andrew Gobran, people operations, Minneapolis, MN  

Work to learn, not earn

“Until now, you were into your Alpha version —  learning in the academic environment.

The moment you graduate, your Beta version will be rolling out for the world to test your potential. Your real learning begins when you start working your real-world job or when you take your first entrepreneurial step. Remember, you have your whole life before you to earn money, and while learning has no age limit, the skills you learn in your early youth will greatly help you in creating a brighter future for you.”

—Moin Shaikh, e-commerce analyst, India

Know that hardships will make you see more clearly

“Every experience you have, the good and the bad, are hidden points of awakening. Every hardship you face, along with moments that take your breath away in awe and wonder, are designed to help you see more clearly. Be intentional. Set technology aside. Spend time in nature. Surround yourself with beauty. Wherever you are, notice deeply. Feel grateful deeply. Love unconditionally. Cultivate your inner life, and your outer life will flourish in ways you cannot imagine.”

—Kathleen Scherek, educator & entrepreneur, St. Paul, MN

Don’t forget to save money

“Make sure you save half of every salary increase and bonus from now on. Our expenses always find a way to ‘expand into our incomes’ — when there’s more money available, we upsize and spend more. By saving half, you reward yourself with that little bit extra, but take the rest away so you don’t fall into the trap of increasing your expenses. Set up an automatic payment each month into an investment account so you are never tempted to spend it.”

—Lisa Linfield, board certified financial planner, Johannesburg, South Africa

Get in touch with people who do what you want to do

“As an introvert, I avoided meeting new people. Now, as I am transitioning careers in this time of changing workplaces and opportunities, I am learning new skills specifically with regards to meeting new people and building authentic connections. Meeting people who are passionate about their work gets my creates juices flowing on how to leverage my own strengths and interests to create new opportunities. Most people you reach out to will be happy to share their stories with you. Learn from them.”

— Sudiksha Joshi, Ph.D., learning advocate, St. Louis, MO.  

Don’t be afraid to push back, when necessary

“Lean into the resistance of life because that is where the growth lies.”

—Tammy Price, medical intuitive instructor, author, Canada

Take care of your mental health

“Remember that your mental well-being is just as important as going to the gym or taking that morning run. Take care of yourself, mind, body and soul.”

—Pamela J. Campbell, life coach/public speaker and author, Harlem, New York

Never lose your sense of wonder

“Although you are embarking the world with a wealth of knowledge, remember the key to true wisdom is remaining curious about the world. The richness is in the unlearning what you hold to be true. Keep looking at the world with wonder and you will remain rich.”

—Tricia Wolanin, Psy.D., clinical psychologist and author, Mildenhall, UK

Expect some failures, but celebrate every win

“Whether you enter the corporate sector or decide to venture into your own enterprise, hard work and perseverance are going to be must-haves to succeed. No field or profession delivers instant results — whether it is quick promotions, big salaries, or the respect of others. Everything takes time and you will fail many times before you get where you want to be. This is inevitable for every person who has succeeded in their profession. So enjoy every step of the journey and make sure you celebrate every small win along the way.”

—Sheranga Senanayake, communication professional, Colombo, Sri Lanka

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  • Marina Khidekel

    Chief Content Officer at Thrive

    Marina leads strategy, ideation and execution of Thrive's content company-wide, including cross-platform brand partnership and content marketing campaigns, curricula, and the voice of the Thrive platform. She's the author of Thrive's first book, Your Time to Thrive. In her role, Marina brings Thrive's audience actionable, science-backed tips for reducing stress and improving their physical and mental well-being, and shares those insights on panels and in national outlets like NBC's TODAY. Previously, Marina held senior editorial roles at Women's Health, Cosmopolitan, and Glamour, where she edited award-winning health and mental health features and spearheaded the campaigns and partnerships around them.