Advice for Recent Graduates
Graduating college is a wonderful accomplishment, and you should be proud of everything you have achieved. However, graduation also usually brings along feelings of frustration, annoyance, and a measure of anxiety. While you are going to be excited, you will most likely also feel nervous about the next steps of your life. As a soon-to-be graduate, you are probably trying to plan ahead while completing a mountain of final papers and projects. As a recent graduate, you are no doubt navigating questions that arise as you transition out of school. Where do I find a job? Where should I live after I graduate? When do I start paying off my student loans, and how can I? These questions are only natural, and even though you may feel overwhelmed, relax. The best advice for recent graduates is to take everything one step at a time and get the broad picture before you actually try to deal with any specific issues.
Take a step back and look at the bigger picture. Prioritize your questions. This will help you tackle any anxiety you feel, and you will begin planning ahead for life after college. Adult life is really all about balance, and balance comes from understanding what lies in front of you. When you look ahead, you can begin thinking of solutions and then acting on those solutions. To help you get started in this process, read on. Below you will find a few of the issues that you will be facing as a recent graduate as well as some advice on how to best deal with those issues and find solutions that make the most sense for you.
Finding a Job After Graduation
Perhaps the most important issue you are facing is the question of, “What is next for me?” You were no doubt asked many times during the weeks leading up to graduation what your next steps would be. For some students, the answer to that question is graduate school or, “I already have a job.” However, that is not the case for every student. You do need to figure out what is next. The majority of recent graduates will begin searching for a job. Ultimately, the jobs you find, and the job you get will determine the answers for all of the other questions you are facing. But how is a recent graduate supposed to find a job? Here are some helpful ways to find jobs and to actually land one of those jobs.
- Internet Searches: One of the fastest and best ways to search for a job these days is online. In fact, there are several ways you can search for jobs online, and there are several websites formatted like search engines that are solely devoted to helping you find a job. If you want a broad perspective, you might just try using a Google search to find a job in the area where you currently live. However, sites such as Monster.com or Jobs.com might make more sense for you and your job search. If you are looking for a more specific industry, such as a creative field, then you might try an even more specific website like CreativeandTechnical.com or Idealist.org to help you find a job.
- Career Services and Alumni Associations: If you are still in school, your college or university most likely has a career services office in which students can seek assistance in preparing for interviews, writing and formatting resumes and cover letters, and looking for jobs. You should absolutely use the career center; it is a wonderful resource full of people dedicated to helping you succeed after college. If you have already graduated college, you might want to try using the alumni association that you are now a part of. Many alumni associations have a vast network of people that could help you find a job.
- Resume and Cover Letter: As a recent graduate or someone preparing to graduate, you really need to make sure you keep your resume updated and ready to go. If you want, you can prepare a general cover letter, but you need to make sure you tailor it for the specific jobs you are want.
Making a Budget
One of the first things every recent graduate needs to do is make a budget. Whether you have a job lined up after graduation or not, you need to determine how much money you have, how much you need, and how much you want to save. There are several things you need to take into consideration before you start spending your hard-earned money. If you have not yet found a job, then you need to determine how long you can survive without having a job and what your best budget solution is if you do not yet have a job.
- Income: The first step to making your budget is determining the level of your income. This step, while pretty obvious and easy, is actually critical. Your budget hinges on the amount of your income, and your other purchases will depend on it, too. It is important to note here that you will likely leave school already in debt to your student loans. Avoid adding to this debt and do not open a credit card unless an emergency arises.
- Fixed Expenses: The next step in making your budget is determining your fixed expenses. Fixed expenses are those that are reoccurring and are set in their amount. For example, if you have an apartment, then your monthly rent is a fixed expense and needs to be taken into consideration before your other expenses. A few other fixed expenses may include your student loans, cable bill, phone bill, car payments, and car insurance payments.
- Variable Expenses: After you have determined the total amount of your fixed expenses, it is time to determine and calculate the total cost of your variable expenses. These types of expenses can be a little tricky, mostly because some of them will fluctuate a lot and some of them are not even all that necessary. An example of a variable expense would be the amount of money you spend on gasoline for your car every month. This type of variable expense is necessary for you, but it also has the potential to change month to month. In some cases, you will want to estimate the total cost of a variable expense a little high so that you can avoid going over budget.
- Living Off Your Savings: If you are having trouble finding a job, the best way for you to make a budget after graduation is to determine how much money you have and how long you can realistically live off of it. Basically, you need to figure out your expenses and then compare those numbers to how much you have saved up.
Deciding Where to Live
Another important decision you are going to have to face after graduation is deciding where to live. When it comes to this specific decision, you have a lot of options, many of which you are most likely aware. However, there are several factors you need to consider before you actually decide where you are going to live. You really need to consider all of your housing options before you make an impulsive decision. Here are some of the housing options that you, as a recent graduate, should consider before you make a decision.
- Move to Where the Jobs Are: One option that you might have overlooked is moving to a new city or town in order to find your dream job. It is no secret that the job market is currently saturated with candidates, which means some places have more job offerings while others have fewer. It may be in your best interest to try and find a job somewhere else. However, before you pack up your belongings and move, you need to find the job first.
- Find a Roommate: If you want to stay close to where you are, and you are confident you can find a job or have already found a job, the most affordable solution for you might be to find a roommate. Whether it is someone you already know or someone new, having a roommate can really offset the cost of things like rent, utilities, and food.
- Live Alone: In some cases, it may make more sense for you to live alone. Living alone might seem a little intimidating to you, but it has the potential to save you money. Living in a studio apartment means less space, yes, but it also means lower rent, generally cheaper utilities, and less time and money spent on cleaning.
- Move Back Home: One option you have most likely avoided thinking about is moving back home to live with your parents. While you probably do not like to consider this option, it is often the cheapest and most realistic option for recent graduates. Moving back home means saving money on rent and other monthly expenses. However, before you move back home, you should talk with your parents and make sure everyone is on board with the plan and that you all understand each other. Remember, you are an adult now and need to be treated differently than when you were in high school. That being said, you should still plan to help with cooking, errands, and housework.