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Charlena plans to begin their Ph.D., in a new program, at SOAS, University of London in fall 2018. Follow them on Twitter at @cmichelleart or visit their website.

As graduate students, much of our life revolves around our education. We spend countless hours writing final essays and preparing for exams, to the point that our life as a student becomes second nature. If you’re like me, it is a part of your identity. So the idea of graduating and leaving school behind can be scary. How do you deal with a new life that doesn’t involve academics? Here are a few tips for making the transition from student to professional.

Be Honest
Dealing with your post-grad life can be daunting, so being honest with yourself about how you feel is important to moving forward. This is something  GradHacker Anne Guarnera has already written about when she advises grad students to
intentionally setting aside time to deal with your feelings. Nothing is worse than suppressing your emotions. Eventually those feelings will bubble over. Take time to relish your journey as a student and the things you’ve learned. While you may no longer register for classes, learning is a lifelong endeavor. Your post-grad life can be exciting, so learning how to accept it can be tricky if you don’t deal with those emotions and can make finding the joy in post-grad life impossible.

Enjoy Time Away from the Ivory Tower
Taking part in
activities away from academia is necessary. So making time for other activities beyond your student identity is a healthy way to transition. If possible, do this before graduation approaches. It’s very easy to go out with friends and discuss life as graduate students (we all do it), but be intentional about activities and conversations away from your life as an academic. For me, making plans away from school was helpful for my transition in between taking time away from school. Having goals and dreams outside of my education made the time easier to handle. While we mostly think of gap year as something high schoolers do before college, gap years are a great way to recharge and prepare for post-grad life. GradHacker,Katie Shives, for example, offers some sound advice for treating graduate school like a professional experience. Maintaining a life outside of school will make the transition after it is over smoother.

Apply for Call For Papers
Sometimes you can’t resist your life as an academic, so be sure to continue to apply for call for papers and attend conferences. This is a great way to continue to stay involved in your field academically and
network with others. Employers love employees who continue to learn and make their companies and universities look good by presenting new research. It’s a win-win for everyone really. Additionally, professional conferences and meetings are a great way to gain professional development as well. Don’t think you can only apply or attend conferences as a student or academic. There are many great academic and professional conferences that would enjoy having speakers and attendees working in their fields.

What tips would you give yourself for preparing for life post graduate school?

[Image taken by Unsplash user Annie Spratt and used under the Creative Commons License]