A college graduation is a major milestone in any man’s life. It marks the culmination of your long journey of constant education that likely began as early as your oldest childhood memories. This is a time for celebration, congratulations, and sad goodbyes. But most of all your graduation is one of the most important transition points in your life.
Rarely is life likely to change so drastically as it does when a man transitions from being a student to a working member of society. There are bound to be a lot of overwhelming emotions, expectations, and unanticipated moments and challenges. But if you work hard to prepare yourself for life after graduation, then this major life transition is bound to be much more smooth and successful than if you do not.
After you graduate, make sure you have a polished resume and some professional goals. Give thought as to what sets you apart from other candidates. You Should also weigh the pros and cons of further education and resume building, including graduate school, internships, and certificate programs. Remember to move at your own pace, but also ensure you have learned how to budget and clean up your social media presence.
If you recently graduated college, or are anticipating your upcoming graduation or any major life transition, be sure to keep reading. Below are 15 incredibly helpful tips that, if followed, are bound to help improve the ease of transition from student life to the real world.
Tips On Where To Begin After Graduation
1. Stand Out From The Pack
As you prepare to enter the real world, one of the most important things you can do is take a look inward. Get to know yourself a bit, and take some meaningful time finding out some of your strengths, as well as aspects of your character that make you unique.
Finding out what makes you different, and in turn special, is a great way to help set you apart from other candidates. Sure, your unique attributes will not make you a better candidate for every position you want. It will, however, help you sell yourself to your employer.
This self-knowledge and appreciation will become increasingly more important as you start to enter the workforce. Setting yourself apart from others is an integral part of writing a great cover letter, and it is hugely helpful when you interview for a job. Knowing what sets you apart, and working to make yourself more unique and special will only continue to help you as you grow as a working professional.
2. Have Your Resume Polished Before You Graduate
The weeks and months leading up to graduation are bound to be a flurry of stress and emotions. There are your final projects and exams, as well as a certain level of uncertainty about where you will live after you graduate. While this can seem like an overwhelming plate, you should also take some time to prepare your resume.
Having a well-polished resume before you graduate will allow you to hit the ground running as soon as you have that diploma in your hand. You can even start sending out a few resumes before you graduate, even if it is just to put feelers out to see if there is interest. If you haven’t worked on your resume before graduation, there is no need to stress. But you should set aside some quality time to write and perfect it very shortly after graduation.
3. Don’t Force Yourself To Move Or Plant Roots
After so many years of consistent structure, the odds are you will feel an overwhelming desire to add structure and stability to your life after graduation. While the structure is great, make sure you don’t force it. This is especially true when it comes to lasting life decisions.
If you are thinking about moving to a big city because you think it is “the right thing” just make sure you think it through first. The same goes for rushing into a multi-year lease, buying a new car, or other financial purchases that will force you to commit to a certain life. Remember that the period of time after graduation should feel like a world full of possibilities – so don’t limit yourself with too many chains tied to you.
4. Begin Setting Professional Goals With Timelines
After graduation, you don’t need to think about your entire future. It is healthy not to, as life has a way of altering all of our best-laid plans. Still, it is great to start thinking about some professional goals, especially if you are set on your career path and passionate about moving up the ranks.
One great way to stay motivated and measure your progress is to set some achievable goals and give yourself realistic deadlines. Whether this is a promotion in two years, a master’s degree while working part-time in four years, or something smaller like a certificate, or a pay raise, write it down and work for it.
It is easy to feel overwhelmed when you enter the workforce, so having just a few goals to work towards and focus your sights on will help keep doubt and chaos at bay.
5. Insert Your Passions Into The Workforce
After you graduate, you might feel some sort of pressure to let go of your “childish” dreams and some of your passions for a structured life and higher pay. But most older folks will tell you that losing sight of your passions and giving up early on your dreams is nothing but harmful.
Passions are what keep men striving to do better, go further, and innovate. Not only is this a meaningful existence that is likely to lead to a mentally satisfying and happy life, but it can also lead to profits as well. If you can incorporate your greatest passions into your job, then the sky’s the limit for your professional potential.
6. Weigh The Pros And Cons Of An Internship
After spending loads of money on college and clocking into one or more low-paying jobs in college and over summer break, the last thing you are probably thinking about is an internship. But sometimes all that is standing between you and the company of your dreams is an internship.
Once you graduate college you will learn quickly that the hardest part about getting closer to your ideal position is the first foot in the door. While the pay for internships is often non-existent or minimal, it is sometimes a great way to get to where you eventually want to land.
Don’t, however, take any internship that comes your way. Weigh the pros and cons. If the internship is at a company you respect, and there are perks, then it is worth consideration. If, however, you do your research and learn that many people who take the internship in question do not eventually get placed in roles at the company, and there are few professional skills acquired, then perhaps it is best to look elsewhere.
7. Learn To Budget Before Signing A Lease
One thing formal education often does a terrible job of is teaching people how to manage finances. Much of college is often designed to hide the individual costs, and instead bundle it up in one (often large) sum.
Budgeting immediately becomes an essential life skill. Making sure you are clear of credit card debt, or at least working towards it, as well as having a checking and savings account are important as you enter the real world. You will learn that as soon as you go to sign your first lease your credit score matters.
Take a bit of time to make sure you have the funds to pay your first month’s rent, and security deposit, as well as have a healthy cushion. This might mean getting a temporary job to save some money before leaving your locality. But it is better to take your time than rush into an apartment, and also into debt.
8. Look Beyond Your First Job
As a new graduate, you are ready to hit the ground running, and you might even know exactly where you want to be. So it will likely be disappointing when you are not able to skip the line and go right to your dream job but instead need to start a few branches lower.
Don’t let this frustrate you. In fact, you should not even let this hold too much space in your mind. Instead, stay focused on your vision of the future. Find the stepping stones that it takes to get to those future jobs and start posturing yourself towards that type of role. There is some truth to the “dress for the role you want, not the one you have,” saying.
9. Consider Even Higher Education
After what has likely been more than a decade-long journey of education, the last thing you probably want to consider is more school, unless it is necessary for the career you are seeking. A master’s degree, however, is one route many people take after graduating college.
If, for example, you want to become an expert on a certain specialty, or want to dive deeper into your area of study, a master’s degree could be a great place to start.
These further degree programs can help set you apart from other candidates. You should not, however, go into one of these programs blindly or without a strong passion. Higher degrees should be used when you are more certain about your passions, or know where you want to go and can use this further degree to help you get there. Going into a master’s program completely lost may end up having more costs than benefits. Remember you can always get another degree down the road after you gain some real-world experience and perspective.
10. Are There Certifications To Boost Your Skill Set?
Sometimes you don’t need a master’s degree or doctorate to gain some additional skills and credentials. There are often certificates or non-degree programs and tests that can give you a leg up on the professional competition. Regardless of what your field of study was and what type of job you seek, there are likely some certificates that are fairly simple to earn and take a fraction of the time and money of a master’s degree.
In this world of ever-evolving technology, most careers value those who are savvy to the latest software programs and understand the tech involved in the industry. This may be a good place to start. Another great place to start is to look at the qualifications necessary for the job postings you are looking at. If you see certain skills or certificates in the “preferred qualifications” category, you should investigate further. This could help you land the job over other entry-level candidates.
11. Move At Your Own Pace, Not Everyone Else’s
After graduation, it is not uncommon to feel the weight of the world on your shoulders. You have your vision of the future, and reality is often different than this vision. You might be hard on yourself, or feel pressure from friends and family to succeed quickly.
While it is a great goal to hit the ground running, you should also take care of your mental health as well during this major transition. One great way to stay calm and mentally healthy during this major life transition is to move at your own comfortable pace.
A big mistake many people make after graduation is to compare themselves to their peers. Comparisons can help gauge progress, but they can also have negative consequences on self-esteem. Just because you are not achieving the same things as someone else you graduated with does not mean you are doing the wrong thing. Stay true to your vision and move at your own pace.
12. Make Sure You Have The Clothes And Tool For Success
After you graduate you are armed with a wealth of knowledge, a degree, and a resume to enter the real world. This is a lot, but there are some additional tools for success that you need to procure before you are ready to enter the workforce.
Make sure you have all the tools you need for the real world after you graduate. This includes having professional clothes and accessories. The beat-up backpack that carried you through your undergraduate career is not appropriate to bring to a job interview.
This does not mean you need to break the bank and buy luxury goods. But take some time to budget and buy a few nice garments for job interviews, and maybe a well-made but affordable bag or briefcase. After all, looking the part goes a long to to helping you land that first job after graduation. It also tends to give you more confidence when you feel professional.
13. Network And Put Yourself Out There
College and formal education are very structured, and you always have understood expectations. After graduation, however, life looks like a blank page. Suddenly you are in charge of navigating everything, and it is up to you to manifest your own success and to bring yourself to the next level.
One great way to facilitate leading yourself in a positive direction is by networking. Attend events with people within the industry you work in. Listen to their advice, as they have already navigated the waters you currently find yourself in. You may be surprised to learn how many people want to help you.
Remember that networking does not always result in a job, but building a large network of professional colleagues can prove very useful throughout your career. It is also a great way to make some like-minded friends in the process.
14. Accept That It Will Take Time To Adjust
When you prepare for life after graduation, make sure you factor in ample time to adjust to your new life. Sure, the day after graduation you can move to a big city, and that can be a great decision. But regardless of your first step, allow your mind some time to adjust to the new reality.
If you move quickly without realizing this major life change, you may struggle to adjust and embrace it. Knowing yourself and consciously growing through these new times is a fascinating and important part of adulthood. Make sure you are conscious and present for this change so you can make the most of it.
15. Clean Up And Filter Your Social Media
Lastly, something you may have heard is the importance of cleaning up your social media presence after you graduate. This is a crucial step for all those who want to be taken seriously in the workforce.
Regardless if the silly photos and opinions you have floating around the internet are funny or not, they are not going to be viewed favorably by potential employers.
Make sure you take time to rake through all your social media posts and take down anything and everything that looks suspect.
Try to see photos and opinions for the place of an employer, and take down anything that does look unsavory. Further, it is also a wise idea to make all of your social media platforms private, especially as you begin interviewing for jobs. The odds are the person interviewing you has googled your name – so you should do the same, and see what they can see. This helps shine the best light possible light on you as you go up against other qualified candidates in the workforce.