Do you want to set yourself up for success after your college graduation?
I graduated years ago, and there are some things that I wish I had done differently.
Being a first-generation college graduate, a good part of my college career consisted of me using the skills I already had and then winging the rest.
I want to pay it forward and give you nine tips that I didn’t have back then.
Not only will these tips help you MAXIMIZE your level of success post-graduation, but they’ll make your life easier and less stressful.
Start Your Job Search Earlier
Looking back, I wish that I had started looking for my “big girl job” sooner.
Although I started my job search about two months before graduating, I soon realized that it wasn’t enough time to secure a job in my field (any film majors out there!?).
I’d recommend starting your job search anywhere from 4-6 months before your college graduation to better your chances of finding a job by the time you walk across the stage.
Starting your search earlier opens you up to way more opportunities.
You’ll have more time to “shop around” for the best offer, you can determine which role in your field would be the best match for you, and you could consider out-of-state employment options.
If you’re graduating soon, be sure to start looking for employment now rather than later.
Have a Savings Fund Built
I REALLY wish that I had built a savings fund before my college graduation.
Having a savings fund will put you ahead once you’ve graduated from college, and you won’t have to use your credit card or take out loans to pay for unexpected expenses.
I had the opportunity to build a savings fund throughout my college career, but like most millennials in their late teens/early twenties back then, I wasn’t the best at managing my money.
Had I saved a minimum of $1000, I could have covered a good bit of the unexpected expenses that came up during college.
Having a savings fund is so essential while you’re in college, and every dollar helps. Save as much as you can to make things easier for yourself when you graduate.
Related post: How To Better Manage Your Money This Year
Work on Internships in Your Field
Having relevant internships on your resume by graduation will always work in your favor.
Employers generally look at someone who does internships in college as dedicated and serious about the position in which they are applying.
Working on internships in your field will not only give you more experience, but you’ll have a leg up on your peers, who are also looking to secure the same jobs as you are.
However, if you’re someone who hasn’t done any internships, don’t take yourself out of the race.
Everyone’s life is different, and we all have circumstances that we have to deal with.
For instance, I had to work throughout college, so I didn’t have a lot of extra time.
Although I still did a few short internships throughout college, I wish I had more time to commit to them.
Also, my mental health wasn’t the best during that time, so it sometimes felt impossible to find the energy needed for internships.
I’m saying this to say, don’t be too hard on yourself if you’re not doing any internships. Yes, they can help, but it’s not the end of the world if you don’t do them.
Have a Backup Plan
I wish that I had a backup plan post-graduation in case I didn’t get the job I wanted in my field.
Spoiler alert: I didn’t.
After college, I was stuck working the same job that I had throughout college (and that I didn’t enjoy) due to my lack of planning.
The real world hit me like a ton of bricks.
After the high of graduating wore off, I realized I still had the same bills to pay and the same rent due at the first of the month.
In retrospect, I wish that I had started looking for better jobs (even if they weren’t in my field for the first few months) to replace the one I had in college.
Having a job that paid more and had benefits would have helped me so much post-graduation.
I would have had more resources to find the perfect job in my field, and I wouldn’t have been as stressed out about money as I was back then at 22.
Having a backup plan, whether that’s taking a better job outside of your field for a few months or moving back home with family to save money, does not make you a failure.
Anything can happen, so you want to be prepared for it.
As long as you don’t get comfortable in your backup plan and you have an exit strategy in place to start doing the work you want to do, you’ll be fine.
Make More Connections
Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not about what you know, but who you know?”
It couldn’t be any more valid.
I’m not saying that everything you’ve learned is not important, because it is, but sometimes people won’t even have the chance to see your expertise because you’re not “in the door” yet.
If I could go back to “College Taryn,” I would make as many professional connections as possible.
– I would keep in touch with teachers in my field and old classmates I did projects with.
– I would also make more use of LinkedIn and build connections that way.
– I’d try to find more professional networking events to attend on campus.
Having solid, professional connections could exponentially help with your success after college.
Come Up With a Five-year Plan
Much of your success after college will de dependent on how you structure your life following graduation.
It’s essential to know how you want your life to look.
What would you like to be doing in the next five years? Who will you be spending time with? What steps will you need to take to get there?
I can’t stress enough how important having a five-year plan is.
I say this because I didn’t have one post-graduation, and I wasted a lot of time aimlessly going from one job to the next and not taking time to figure out what I wanted out of life.
You don’t need to have every step planned out to the T, but you should have a general idea of what you want to do.
– Year 1: Secure a high-paying job in your field
– Year 2: Pay off any debt you may have
– Year 3: Start working on your own business
– Year 4: Move to a new state/country for a specific reason
– Year 5: Start a family or take some time for yourself to travel
Determine how you want your life to be, then work backwards until you get there.
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Start Doing the Thing(s) You Want To Do
Is there something you want to do that you’ve been putting off?
Maybe it’s getting a yoga certification. Or perhaps it’s learning how to play the guitar.
Whether it’s starting that Youtube channel, or in my case, a blog, I’d say go for it.
Do all the things that make you happy because we all need some type of creative outlet outside of our work-life.
Having hobbies can help you from experiencing burnout, and you’ll have dedicated time each week to do something you enjoy.
What makes it even better is that one day your hobby could make you money!
I know money isn’t everything, but there’s no better feeling than making money doing something you already love doing.
If you haven’t already, start making time for hobbies!
Related post: Feeling Stuck in Life? Do These 15 Things!
Do a Post-graduation Cleanup
Whether you live in an apartment, at home with your family, or in a dorm, a great thing you can do would be a post-graduation cleanup.
The real world comes at you fast, and you’ll soon find yourself with not a lot of time to catch up on cleaning before the new chapter of your life begins.
Treat your cleanup day (or days) the same way you would for spring cleaning.
Things to do:
– Wash all your bedding
– Sort through your clothes and give away what you no longer wear
– Tidy up your workspace
– Take care of laundry
– Clean your kitchen, bathroom, and living room
– Vacuum/mop your floors
– Do any needed dusting
– Smudge your space (optional)
Having a clean space will do wonders for your mental health.
You’ll feel less anxious, more productive, and more at peace as you move into the next phase of your life.
Pop your headphones in and get down to business!
Take a Little Time Off
If you’re able to, take a break after you graduate. Book a trip to your favorite destination and relax! You deserve it.
You’ve spent years putting in hard work at school and probably had your share of sleepless nights.
It’s important to remember that your mind and body need a break to perform at their best.
Whether you decide to take a staycation and put your phone on DND, go on a road trip, or travel abroad for a few weeks, a great time to do it is right after graduation.
Related post: 5 International Travel Tips You Need To Know
If you’re doing any of these nine tips, you’re well on your way to being successful once you graduate college.
It’s also equally important to remember to have fun and learn all that you can while you’re still in school.
Let me know below in the comment section when you’ll be graduating and what your degree will be! Best of luck to you!
Peace, love, and good vibrations.
I love every bit of this writing. I graduated from the university July this year from the department of mass communication, Abia state university, Nigeria.
I’ve been having sleepless nights about what next to do with my self and How to start earning but I can say I have a sigh of relief after going through this article 😊😊
Congratulations on your degree! And don’t stress, you don’t need to have everything figured out all at once. I’m so glad this article helped you out ☺️