UNITED STATES—It is a fun, yet scary time for a lot of young adults. They are graduating from high school or college. While the celebrations are fun, the gifts you receive are excellent in most cases, but then when the dust settles the realization hits, what happens next.

When it comes to high school, you either are entering the workforce or you’re about to pursue further education giving you another four to five years to figure out precisely what it is you’re planning to do, and even then, so many people still don’t know what it is they want to do. I guess I was reflecting a bit seeing tons of students celebrating their college degrees.

It is indeed a wonderful feeling, but at the same time work, employment, a job becomes the first priority. Why? Everyone is asking that question you don’t want to hear, so what are you going to do for work? Most can’t deliver an answer, because most are not thinking about a job until after walking across the stage. The key is we should be thinking about employment at the tail end of your junior year of college and the immediate start of your senior year.

College doesn’t really prepare you for work. I hate to say that, but it is true. It is simply you going through that slog of courses and university requirements before you actually get into your major. I personally don’t know any students who get into their major and start doing what it is they truly enjoy or that passion that their grades excel. What you are doing is an investment at this point; you’re doing something that brings you joy or where time just doesn’t seem to matter at all.

You do have to think about how to monetize what you’re good at. I truly believe that. If you’re good at something, you should be getting paid for it. Don’t allow your talent not to pay you. When you realize what your gift is, start thinking of things you can do to make money, and turn that into a career that brings you longevity, but alternate outs if need be.

You might begin your working career after college, some start before going to college so you have a bit of work experience that allows you to get your foot into the door. That is all you need with most companies, a foot in the door. Once that happens, you kind of have to pay your dues and go from there. Climb the ladder but know when the ladder has run out.

If the work you’re doing is not fulfilling, for most undergrads you are fresh out of college they have to start looking elsewhere. It may take some time, but that is life. Anything worth fighting for is never easy. It is something my grandparents told me and even though they are no longer here, I still hold those words dearly. Life is trial and error; some things work, some things don’t, but if you don’t try you never know.

You’re not coming fresh out of college making the big bucks. That is a common misconception, maybe if you’re in engineering or tech you might, but then you have to work your way up. Don’t think because you have a college degree you are automatically guaranteed a job; that is not how it works. That is something I learned as an undergraduate, especially as a liberal arts major, where everyone I knew tried to sway me into doing accounting, business or something that they deeded as a feasible field of study. There was no passion AT ALL for any of those fields, but I realized you may not be an expert in one field, but what you have learned can give you an edge in a field where you’re looking to get your foot in the door.

The thing about graduation season for so many parents and students is life hits you; things are getting real and the time of being a kid and not having responsibilities are long gone. You’re an adult now and with that comes a bevy of responsibilities that are not always fun. Face it, you have to grow up, and as the kids say nowadays ‘adulting’ is no fun.