5 Things You Must Do After College

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Being a post-grad is one of the most exciting, yet trying, periods of time you will face as your education finally reaches its climax. I’m writing this in February, then, as a way to hopefully help get people thinking about this now, rather than later.

This is the time to prove yourself. Really, your 20’s are all about proving yourself. This is it! Your first step into the so-called real world you’ve heard so much about.

It’s only been 1 year since I began my post-grad journey, so I’ve compiled a list of things that will hopefully benefit you once you’ve finally finished your undergrad.

Keep in mind that some of these tips are more or less applicable depending on what you actually studied in school, with communications being my experience for writing this.

1. Learn How to Budget

Yes, you may already know how this works and have been doing a fine job through school. This tip isn’t for you. This is for the post-grads who didn’t work much during school and had their parents handle their finances.

It’s time to get it together. Learn how to do your taxes. Learn how to save money. Watch your parents do it. Figure out what you need to make and how much you can spend before you make other big decisions, like where you’re going to live and what kind of job you’re going to apply for.

It amazes me when people don’t know how much money they want to negotiate for a salary. How do you even have grounds for what salary is “necessary” when you have no idea how much money it will take for you to survive? Think about this now so you can be ready.

2. Plan for your Student Loans

Most of us have plenty of loans to pay for once we’re done with school, and this is something you absolutely cannot go into unplanned. You don’t have much time after school ends before the bills start coming in, so plan ahead. Find out how much you’re going to have to pay and apply for different payment plans if you need to early, so you don’t end up paying way more than you can afford.

3. Stay Busy

In other words, do part-time work. This may mean putting other things on hold, such as relationships and social activities. Why? This is a time of rough transition, and you need to be prepared for anything. As a new professional, you are the most susceptible employee to unexpected layoffs and pay-cuts.

Be prepared. Part-time work, especially related to your profession, helps supplement income and develop even more skills that you will need as your career advances. I highly recommend online tutoring. It’s flexible, pays pretty well, and is a great way to keep your mind active when you’re tempted to zone out on the weekend.

4. Avoid Commitments

I say this with a heavy heart, especially since many people I know get married and have kids shortly after college. That’s fine for them, but I don’t recommend it. This is mostly because you have no idea where your profession is going to take you, and making lifelong commitments with someone who may not align with your career creates intense problems.

Plus, most people just aren’t ready for that level of commitment during this time of transition. I highly recommend that you take a year or more to get settled into your new lifestyle and worry about family life later, when you are more ready for it. You will avoid a lot of problems if you do.

5. Develop a TON of Experience

This is especially important for those of you going for grad school. Education is a great asset to your resume, but don’t rely on it too much. Other people just as educated as you are applying for that same job down the road, only they probably have experience along with their education.

If you wait too long to develop experience through internships or part-time work related to your career, that makes your resume extremely unattractive to employers. This obviously doesn’t apply to every field of study, but it is mostly relevant for people in communications.

The bottom-line is: don’t get lazy or complacent. Once you’re done with school, plan for your future and be prepared for anything. Don’t pigeonhole yourself into one thing, because you might get stuck with it for the rest of your life. Experiment. Have fun. Get your life off to a great start. Prove yourself.

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