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The “After-college happiness” diagram

My relatives & mentees in college have been asking me so many questions about after-college such as the following:

  • “What exactly does XX do on a daily basis”
  • “What kind of challenges does an XX face”
  • “What are the skills & competencies required to become an XX?

Then I found my self going through some deep-thinking steps:

1) What is the mindset that triggers these questions?

what should I do

I ended up developing this diagram above. Let’s name it “The after-college happiness diagram”. Just to clarify, I am not trying to develop a new methodology at the age of 25. It’s just a simple exercise. Also, it doesn’t apply to the ones wishing to pursue an academic career.

2) What does after-college diagram tell us?


1) Everybody wants to reach D…

2) Everybody wants to reach D…

3) Most of the fresh graduates are in A but they just don’t know it yet.  Some of them will figure it out soon. Out of those, some will give up & settle, and the others will try to move from A to D. This is the nature of y generation, right?

4) Even some college students are aware of how living like an A sucks. Out of those lucky ones, the ones who have nothing to lose (extreme wealth + 0 concern or extreme courage + 0 wealth) tend to move towards B or C. The ones who move towards B are more likely to have certain level of wealth, then the ones who move towards C.

5) There are two types of entrepreneurs:  A–>C–>D ones and C–>A–>D ones.

  • A–>C–>D type of entrepreneurs are usually the ones that decide to become an entrepreneur after acquiring certain competencies, having success/failure with someone else’s money and being bored of what they do. These people can quit their job, finance their life for 6-7 months, improve themselves on particular areas (A–>C) and work and work and work, and become good at that stuff.
  • C–>A–>D type of entrepreneurs are usually the college kids / fresh grads. The best scenario for these people would be to jump from C to D by passing/skipping the step A. However, most of them are exposed to accommodate certain things that they don’t like. As far as I have observed, most of them say that those painful moments (or lifestyle let’s say) helped them a lot to achieve what they achieved.

6) The toughest and the most appreciated one is probably the path of B–>D and the people on this path are the ones that I personally admire, because they are the ones who create their own market, own customers, own audience or whatever you want to call, and that’s probably the hardest one. And this path is the main reason of what I always believe: Artists and inventors are very similar to each other. Just think, have you ever met an artist or an inventor who is not passionate about what he/she is doing? 

7) We don’t see the examples of B–>A–>D very often. Artists or inventors never sacrifice their joy of fulfilling their work just because market expects something else from their side. If they do, they fail.

8) I don’t have solid examples for B–>C–>D, but I can definitely say that this path is less likely to fail comparing to B–>A–>D. On the other hand, there is always a risk of staying at A and being unable to move into D.


3) What about the college students who are asking me the questions I mentioned in the first paragraph?

Well, the expectation from our education system is the shift of college students from C–>D (originally based on the Anglo-Saxon education system) whereas the majority of students are in the path of A–>D. With an increasing competition caused by the excessive labor supply (~ increasing number of university graduates), the competition pushes students to start learning stuff without figuring out what they really like or what they really don’t like. There are two ways to shift this trend towards C–>D

a) Internships: It’s a good way to find out what you actually wish to do for your entire life.

b) Youngsday: Reading the basics of diverse fields from the perspective of young entrepreneurs, professionals and academics will give you amazing insights on what you would like/wouldn’t like.


In my next article, I will elaborate what the “XX” is by using an example of a specific job-position. (see the first paragraph). By then, if you are a college student and if you have read this article, let’s have a quick exercise:

1) Where do you see yourself in this diagram?

2) If you are not in B-C or D, what are the things you want to know more about? (in order to be sure if you enjoy it)


Image source: Flickr

Orkun Basaran

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