Five Criteria for a Happy Life Post-Graduation

by Ad 2 Tampa Bay | February 25, 2015


Life is different once you graduate. Structure, friends, responsibilities, everything changes once you walk across the stage and accept your diploma (unless you go to grad school). I hope to part with you the knowledge I’ve gained after only a few short months in the outside world. If you know me, you’d know that I’m a generally optimistic person, but these are recommendations that I feel anyone can apply to their professional life. Also, know these suggestions work synergistically and do not necessarily work so well independently.

1- Accept the job your gut tells you is right.

This is a lesson I learned from my teacher, Vivian Owen, after discussing my employment options as they apply to my future. You’ll have multiple opportunities to pursue, each with their respective benefits: one pays well, one is in the city you want to live, one has badass work, one has an awesome culture, etc. At the end of the day, you need to consider what you want versus what you need. It will not be an easy decision and this one choice will affect your very immediate situation and ultimately your entire future, so no pressure. All those extra benefits will be enticing but make sure the offer you accept aligns to your personal goals and your pursuit of happiness. My goal was to be employed at an established creative agency in a position where I could grow. I turned down multiple mediocre full-time employment opportunities with extraneous benefits for an open-ended internship at a branding house I believed in, and that my gut told me was right. A passion for work nearly palpable, a track record of some of the most creative work on the block, and the hangout for some of the chillest professionals I know persuaded me that SPARK was the correct decision. I may not have all of my wants, but today I have all that I need with that opportunity for growth and more. If you feel it and you know it’s right, I guarantee you’ll be happy.

2- Love the people you work with.

If you haven’t begun interviewing with companies yet, remember this for when you do. You’ll have the interview, you’ll tour the space, but really take a minute to get to know the people you’ll be working with on a day-to-day basis. Once you accept the job, they become more than just co-workers, they become your family. Your work-family? In all reality, you will interact with them more than your actual family, so making sure they’re cool is extremely important and completely relevant to your overall happiness. Pay attention to the little things. Is there laughter throughout the floor? Are people smiling? Are people talking about their lives and not just work? Is there alcohol on Fridays? Joking with the last one (sort of), but if you want to smile and laugh every day, don’t work where that isn’t happening already. After all, a party of one is never fun.

3- Celebrate the wins, learn from everything else.

Life at work will have its ups and downs, especially when you’re out of your comfort zone learning a new skill set. Recognizing and celebrating the wins that make each day unique while building on everything else is a constructive way to enjoy yourself throughout the week without losing sight of what you’re there to do. It’s also important to have a someone who will recognize those little win tidbits when you don’t because, sometimes, you will be so focused that you’ll be blinded towards your own development. There’s always something to celebrate, even if it’s a tweet with 12% engagement.

4- Enjoy what you do daily.

This may seem self explanatory, but you need to enjoy what you do. Every. Single. Day. Realize that you will wake up, commute, and execute your job 8+ hours a day, 5 days a week, 4 weeks a month for 12 months a year until whenever you move on or quit. As a Social Media Coordinator, I’m one of the lucky few whose every day routine is packed with entertaining stories, photos, and people I like to laugh with, both on and off line. Honestly, the nature of what I do at SPARK is just fun and the people only enhance that, so make sure you find something you find fun too. With success in criteria #2, this one shouldn’t be too difficult.

5- Work & life balance.

This bit is arguably the most difficult one to follow, especially when work and life are so closely intertwined. Hard as it may be, declare your call off time for when you find yourself working a little too much. Just put down the work and go do something random. Buy a blow dart gun. Paint an abstract painting. Rearrange your furniture. Even if it’s just a walk through your neighborhood, you need that time to decompress in order to be successful the following day. Save your energy for those 12-hour days when something important is actually due :).

So, I hope this helps. Remember to keep an optimistic mindset and don’t be afraid to laugh at yourself. If you’d like to discuss further, you can reach me at


Christian Dyer | Co-Social Director