5 podcasts to inspire recent graduates


By Joseph Hernandez, Chicago Tribune

We’re entering the height of graduation season. Soon, our newsfeeds and mailboxes will be inundated with videos of inspirational commencement speeches and invitations to graduation ceremonies and parties, while a number of this year’s graduating class — whether they’re high-schoolers or college-age seniors — begin feeling the pangs of gut-wrenching existential angst.

“What’s next, who am I, what will I do?!”

I’ll be the first to admit I was there once (in some ways, still am). “Adulting” is daunting. Frankly, as a 30-year-old, I still have my fair share of sleepless, anxiety-ridden nights, where I toss and turn thinking about the future, debt, retirement, happiness, what it means to “be.” It’s a real bummer.


With that in mind, I’ve gathered up some podcasts that — in my opinion — inspire, instruct and inform. Less a road map than a guideline for being a better human, these programs alternate between entertaining and educational, offering advice and inspiration, sans sanctimony or patronization. They won’t give you all the answers, but they will help you ask better questions.


Surprise, surprise: There’s a whole podcast dedicated to being a millennial. And while the generational moniker inspires a lot of side eye these days, for this list, it’s an appropriate jumping-off point. Host and producer Megan Tan is the ideal narrator for a show that’s as navel-gazey as a selfie, and that’s a compliment. Tan, a 20-something exploring life out of college, is as uncertain and confused about her options as anyone, and so started this podcast to figure it out. Charming and effusive, she lets listeners into her world as she navigates the job search, money woes, creative pursuits, starting a business and even her love life. As the season progresses, Tan stumbles and grows — in real time — and the podcast weaves and pivots with her life, mirroring that same path many of us have tread before.


Produced by NPR, “How to Do Everything” hosts Mike Danforth and Ian Chillag invite questions from listeners about literally everything. From dating to shaking hands to financial questions, the hosts bring on expert guests to help them solve problems, with a healthy dose of humor. Each episode is guaranteed to help you walk away armed with new facts and better equipped to deal with the world’s unknowns.


Saddled with student loans, a part-time job and big, clumsy dreams, I left college bumbling around, wishing I had learned more about managing money, planning for the future and even writing a check. Years later, I’m only marginally better off, and that’s thanks in large part to “You Need A Budget.” Weekly episodes tackle all sorts of personal financial topics, but offering up actionable, easy tips for getting on track. Covering investing to paying down loans, YNAB is an approachable podcast that helps you get results where it matters most: your bank account.



Dubbed a “happy hour with friends you haven’t met yet,” Buzzfeed’s “Another Round” podcast features hosts Tracy Clayton and Heben Nigatu sounding off on everything from gender politics to race to social media and “Hamilton.” The show feels like you’re a wallflower listening in on an engaging cocktail party discussion, thanks to the levity and wit of Clayton and Nigatu. With guests like authors Roxane Gay, Ta-Nehisi Coates and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, they don’t hold back, covering serious topics such as racism, police violence and cultural appropriation, but humor consistently ranks high on the show’s charms. To borrow a phrase from Internet culture, this show will help you be a “woke bae” — that is, you’ll be better informed and, hopefully, less ignorant.


Comedian, author and actor Michael Ian Black helms this podcast, an interview show that hosts some of pop culture’s biggest names and talent. Each week, Black interviews guests like David Sedaris, Audra McDonald, Elizabeth Gilbert, Chris Hardwick and more to find out what makes them tick. Employing thoughtful questions with smart humor, Black engages his guests into easy-listening conversations about their creative process, life experiences, failures and passions that have made them the influential figure they are today. For recent grads struggling with defining their future, “How to Be Amazing” is an incredible resource for inspiration, and for learning important lessons on the path toward a career.

(c)2016 Chicago Tribune

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