You and I like share the same ancestry: We descend from hunters and gatherers, right? But before graduation from college, I was never responsible for hunting nor gathering my own food. For the most part, I was sheltered and fed--at home with my parents until college, as a camper and then a staff member at summer camps in the summer, and in my dear old college refectory (known as "the RAT") in college.
Suddenly, post-college, I found myself living in Washington, DC with a salary half that of the average starting salary for new grads today. (Actually, to be more accurate, I lived in Northern Virginia and worked in Washington. It was a move to save money initially but it later saved me thousands when I got accepted to the University of Virginia for graduate school--in-state residency was a gift and a lucky career move.)
My roommate and I found a decent sized two bedroom apartment. On the first day without our families, we unpacked for ten hours straight and then we followed the advice of our friends: we walked to the grocery store, and we bought an enormous amount of canned goods to stock up. Then we came home, had a glass of wine from a Franzia box, and started to think about dinner. My roommate, a native of New Orleans was planning to cook up a pot of rice and beans...and couldn't wait to break out her Tabasco sauce.
We quickly discovered that we were out of options had very little to choose from: As it turned out, we had forgotten to buy a can opener, the stores had closed for the night, and we had lots of beans that we could not open.
So we ate oranges and peanut butter sandwiches with our very fine wine. Then we went out and invested in a can opener and we ate much better after that. We were starving entry-level employees. An English major and a Fine Arts grad.
Obviously, the memory remains, and the experience has ultimated shaped the advice I give to new grads. No matter what you do post-grad, you need three essentials for your professional life: regular access to e-mail, a toolbox (so that you can make a place to hang your hat), and that all important can opener.
Those are my essentials for success, what are yours?