Once you’ve graduated college, it seems like everyone has to put their two cents into what you should do with your life, especially your parents, distant relatives, neighbors, friends and random people on Instagram. Work now! Work later! This is your time to be young! You’re not young anymore! Go to grad school! Go to trade school! Interns are just pretending to have jobs! Intern for the work experience! Take anything that pays! You need dental! The postal service is always hiring! Why can’t you be more like your brother?
Yes, it gets even more confusing when you get contradicting advice, and if you haven’t yet, you will. Trust me on this. So, now that you did the sensible thing and looked up advice online, you’ve come to the right place!
Obviously, everyone has different opportunities in life. I know neither this or what will honestly make you happy in life. I’m not a wizard or anything like that. Still, there are some general statements of advice that can help you in life, or least help you come up with a plan.
Try to keep your mistakes small!
You are only human. You will make mistakes in life, financial or otherwise. The key is to contain your mistakes and just keep them small. All it takes is a little planning. You can use a credit card if you’ll know you’ll have the money to pay something off within a month or two. You shouldn’t use a credit card to pay for something you have no way of paying off. All in all, don’t buy off more than you can chew.
Make sure you know where you stand in the job market!
Applying for jobs can be trickier than it looks. For one, there is such a thing as being overqualified or even over-educated. Don’t spend too much time applying too often for jobs that you could have gotten in high school since you might no longer be eligible. Sure, it’s flattering to be told you are essentially “too good” to work, but you can waste a lot of the time you could have spent pinning down the jobs you’ll be more likely to get. Second, make sure you are actually qualified to take on the job you applied for. Even if an employer might initially be interested in hiring you with half of the needed work experience, they will ultimately hire the more appropriate candidate, meaning you’ve just got blacklisted for a job that you might have gotten if were patient and applied at a time you were qualified for.
Make a student loan repayment plan soon!
Some lucky people had their parents pay for their college education, either by saving all of their lives or just by being rich. Some of us had very lucrative scholarships. In the end, however, many of us are not so lucky in life and had to “borrow” money for school. If you are in that boat, it’s best to make up your repayment plan as soon as possible. Make sure you include part of your repayment plan in your budget! Sure, many loans give a grace period that lets students find work before they pay it back, making it tempting to take your time, but you don’t want to have to pay increased interest. Take advantage of the grace period by being on top of things. Especially now that it is too late to ask for a fixed rate!
Never underestimate (or overestimate) the power of networking!
Everyone’s on LinkedIn for a reason. Always try to ask people you are close with if they can help you get a job. It’s honestly how the world works. That said, never rely on people you know casually to help you find work. If anything, you’ll look like you are trying to take advantage of the situation and could end up blacklisted. For reference points, this includes former bosses that fired you or employers that rejected you, even if you have their contact information. In addition, never become too reliant on networking, since you don’t know how reliable a connection really is until you actually managed to get a job through them.
Always prepare for ageism!
Once again, when applying for jobs, realize that recent grads might be overlooked for jobs, even if they have the experience, because they held “internships” instead of “real jobs,” even if they were actually paid for their work. Then, because time is a cruel mistress, you’ll get to a certain age when you are deemed “too old” for other jobs. How long will it take the transition? For all you know, it could just be in a year. While it is unfair, it does strengthen the importance of getting your foot in the door while you still can! The best way to fight for something is to prepare for it!
Save for emergencies!
Always have a back-up plan. It’s the story of The Ant & the Grasshopper all over again, including life looking down on the artists. While it is important to have fun while you can, because you can end up saving your money up for nothing, it is also important to have something for those rainy days, because life prefers rainy seasons.