Think you’re ready for the big, bad world beyond graduation? Not so fast. Make sure you’ve done these things first.
Graduating is an exciting time. You’ve most likely spent the last few years planning, studying, cramming, writing, crying, reporting and cramming some more, and now it’s finished — you’ve got every right to be excited!
You’re moving onto a new, unexplored chapter in your life and you should be raring to go. This is a great attitude to have; it promotes confidence and implies a state of readiness for the big, bad world. But chances are, you’re not as ready as you think.
This isn’t meant in the sense of “You’re not ready and you’re going to fail,” but more in the sense of you may be missing a few things that can help you. By making sure you have everything checked off the list, your transition from college to working life will be easier. (Click here to tweet this list.)
Easier doesn’t mean more interesting, though. Even if the following advice seems tedious, you need it to set yourself up for success and to live your life to the fullest.
Start with the money you’ve got — or not
If you have any immediate debt (not student loans, that’s a whole other barrel of fish) make sure you get the right credit card, or even overdraft protection. This kind of debt is more common for students than you may think. If you don’t get the best credit card, you’ll likely have problems later.
Do your research and find the best possible option — it isn’t necessarily the cheapest. Look further down the line. Hidden costs and rate inflation can cause havoc, so make sure you take the appropriate steps in preventing such disasters.
Use sites like Moneyfacts. They don’t sell any products, but they do give you stripped down, to the point facts. Keep an eye out for lenders with endorsements from those sites; chances are, they’re a viable option.
Map out a budget
After dealing with immediate issues, longer term priorities need to come into play. Make a budget. Know what’s coming in and what’s going out and save accordingly. Saving is important, but often overlooked.
Find a high interest savings account and give in to adulthood and responsibility. These savings should go towards retirement funds — that’s right, saving for retirement starts now! — and establishing an emergency fund. You never know what’s going to happen, and you don’t want to use your credit card or take out a loan if you don’t have to.
Give your future a health check
Advancements in industry and technology, especially the Internet, have opened many doors when it comes to career possibilities. Jobs that didn’t exist a short time ago such as web designers and developers are now highly sought after.
Many careers are available in markets that didn’t even exist 10 years ago, such as social media. A study from The Princeton Review shows that computer and information science majors are now within the top 10 most popular chosen degrees and understandably so.
While the people who have studied and gained the skill set in these particular markets will find themselves with an ocean of possibilities, others may not. Traditional marketers may find that the only jobs available when they graduate are in digital marketing, which sounds the same, but isn’t.
Financiers might find that their degree is now redundant due a new automated statistical algorithmic model designed to approve or reject finance applications.
This is how advancement works; needs are created and someone finds a way of meeting them — you want to be relevant in your career 10 years from now, or at least know how to adapt to the inevitable changes. If you aren’t sure of either, perhaps you should look at a different career path.
Enjoy being a student while you can
A student finishing their last day of college and starting their job the next day is almost unheard of. Do what you can to make the transition an enjoyable one. Here are some ideas.
Celebrate your graduation — throw a party, or go to someone else’s. Not only are these enjoyable (and deserved), they can act as a platform to begin the networking you’ll be doing throughout your career.
You might meet someone who’s going into the same business — swap numbers or add them on Facebook: you never know what they’re going to achieve and how they could help you in the future. They might know something you don’t about a certain industry or position.
Making friends and networking is a big part of becoming successful; it’s best to start early and enjoy yourself in the process.
Student status doesn’t end on the exact date you finish college, so how else can you use this to your advantage? Student discounts. You’re probably not going to have a great deal of money — the majority of it will be in your savings account, right?
Student discounts can be your best friend. You can get discounts on a new suit or formal dress, for example — you need to look your best for upcoming interviews or networking opportunities. Computer software is another example. It costs less to purchase the student version of Microsoft Office than it would be to subscribe to the full (and essentially identical) version.
Use the Internet to find other student discounts and how you can use them to further yourself and save some money too.
This advice isn’t just pertinent now — it’ll also be relevant in the future. Finances are always going to be a priority, your job and status is always going to be a major aspect of your life, but at the same time, enjoying yourself and making sure you’re living life will be equally important.
Have you forgotten to do something from this article? How are you going to change it? Or have you managed to check all the necessary boxes when it comes to graduating?
Chris runs the blog Spend It Like Beckham where you can find all things financial to do with sports, students and your general self. Follow him on Twitter @officialsilb.