My Insta and FB newsfeeds have been filled with images of caps and gowns and degrees and “I did it!” mantras. Congratulations class of 2017, you did it! You have completed 4 (or maybe more) years of studying, testing, cramming and… fun-having. Graduating from college really is such an accomplishment, but now, what are you going to do with that degree you’ve worked so hard for? Looking through my Timehop, I realized that I have been out of college for 4 years now. Say what?! I feel like I just left UGA yesterday, but yes, time has flown by.
College is supposed to prepare you for the real world, but truly, I don’t think there’s anything that can 100% get you ready for what’s next. So, with my 4 years of experience so far, I’m going to bestow upon you my professional opinion. 🙂 Here’s 5 tips to help you in these next steps of life.
1. Don’t settle for a job, but also don’t expect to get your dream job just yet
You’ve worked hard in school, so of course, don’t go out and accept the first job you find, BUT don’t be entitled either. So many graduates come out of school thinking they’ll make $50K right off the bat and that they shouldn’t have to do menial tasks like they did in their internships, but lemme stop you there! You’ve done internships, yes, but you really don’t have any real experience, so employers are taking a chance on you. Unless you are becoming an engineer or something of that sort, you’re not going to make $50K and you should be super glad that someone is willing to invest in you, pay you relatively well, considering you have no experience, and give you benefits. Just remember, every job and opportunity is a stepping stone to getting you where you want to be in life.
2. Never ever ever say “that’s not in my job description”
This is not only one of my biggest pet peeves (and will be of your co-workers), but tons of bosses I have talked to will tell you, that this is the biggest turn off in an employee. It definitely makes you seem like you’re not a team player and don’t care about the success of the business as a whole. Plus, you know how Drake says “started from the bottom now we’re here”? Yeah… you gotta start at the bottom if you want to get anywhere.
3. Bond with co-workers over lunch, but don’t go out to eat every day
Think the freshman 15 can only happen your first year of college? Think again! I loved going out to eat with my co-workers at my first job, but I literally put on 15 pounds, which definitely added to that early quarter-life crisis thing I went through. Plus, going out to eat for lunch every day starts to add up. Entry level jobs don’t pay that well, so you should probably save every dime you can.
4. Don’t let being out of school make you sad
There’s a good chance you’re going to be jealous of your friends who have continued on to graduate school and can go out during the week, get a spring break and that don’t have to dress up every day, but just remember you’re getting experience, starting life and who knows, you could very well end up 4 years down the road making $100k/year while they’re just starting to pay off their student loans. And yeah, it’s okay to miss your college days, but at some point, you do have to move on and once you do, you’ll realize how fun your 20s will really be.
5. Make financial plans
Yes, you have finances now and they are very easy to mess up, so make plans. It won’t be fun to take away from your already small paycheck, but be sure to set up a 401K right away. Anyone who is older and didn’t do this, will tell you to do so. It comes out before you even get your paycheck and many employers will match your funds, so don’t miss out on free money you could be getting. Also, be sure to save money… don’t spend it all in one place. You don’t want to be living paycheck to paycheck forever and that takes being conscious about how you allocate your funds. I highly suggest looking into some of Dave Ramsey’s advice. He’s really helped me to not get overwhelmed by my student loans and debts, but also not get in a bad situation. I couldn’t follow his rules to a tee (they’re super hard and I’m going to online shop every now and then), but he has some pretty good nuggets in there.
Graduates, don’t be afraid of the real world! It’s definitely different and takes a lot of learning and adjusting, but it really is so much fun. Looking for any other advice? Shoot me over a message and I’ll see what I can do to help! 🙂
C’est la vie,