Graduating from college is a significant achievement in life. It takes hard work, dedication, and countless all-nighters to make it to the end of this journey. What lies ahead is a future full of hope and possibilities. Today I will be sharing my top 10 advice tips for college graduates. Here’s to the class of 2019. You made it!
1) Congratulate Yourself
I think it goes without saying that graduating from college is a major achievement and one that deserves celebration. After four long years of lectures, research papers, exams and countless all-nighters, you’re finally done! I know from personal experience, it probably felt like a never-ending marathon but somehow you made it to the finish line. Take this moment to congratulate yourself for all of your hard work in reaching this achievement.
2) Enjoy Your Time Off
One of the first things you should do after graduating is to enjoy the free time you have before entering the workforce or furthering your education. The time after graduation is probably one of the last periods in your life where you have the freedom to do what you want, when you want. This would be a great moment to book a vacation, spend time with family and friends and catch up on sleep. Whatever you choose to do, make it something meaningful to you. Once you enter the work force your vacations will have to be approved; welcome to adulthood.
3) Learn What You Can from Your First Job
For those of you entering the workforce immediately after graduation it’s an especially exciting time because you’ll be earning an income. After living on ramen noodles, energy drinks and the bare minimum, it’s a great feeling to be financially independent. Aside from a salary, a new job brings with it the opportunity to test your knowledge and develop new skill sets. You want to make the most of your new job by learning as much as you can.
Attend professional development conferences, workshops and any meetings suggested by your employer. These types of events are not only beneficial to your professional development, they are great opportunities to network and gain tips for college graduates. One of the things I wish I did more of during college was to meet people in my field of work and other industries. You may not realize it at the time but establishing professional relationships will help you in the future when you are seeking a promotion or want to change career paths.
4) It’s Okay If You Change Career Paths
Out of the many things I wish someone would’ve shared with me about working after college is that it’s okay to change career paths. Upon graduating, I had a degree but no job to apply it to. The work that I have done since then still isn’t what I went to school for, which is something I’ve struggled to come to terms with over the years.
If you are fortunate to have a job offer after graduation in your area of interest, make the most of that opportunity. For those that may not have something lined up, I encourage you to explore your options. In both cases, know that it’s okay to change your career path if a job no longer brings you joy and fulfillment. Life is too short to spend 40 hours a week, or more, doing something you don’t enjoy. If you find yourself in this situation, seek the mentorship of someone in the industry you do have an interest in. Job shadowing provides you with an excellent opportunity to explore the everyday routine of a career before committing to it.
I would also encourage new grads to explore entrepreneur opportunities, especially if you feel like the traditional workforce isn’t for you. With modern day technology, many millennials are embracing the entrepreneurial spirit. Although being your own boss sounds glamourous, it does come with its own set of challenges. If you’re dedicated, willing to make sacrifices, and have an open mind, being an entrepreneur can be very rewarding both personally and financially.
5) Be Finacially Responsible
The jubilance of graduation typically lasts until one thing shows up….student loan payments!
Millennials are facing crushing amounts of student loan debt, with the average amount owed being $28,000. If that figure isn’t jaw dropping enough, consider as a collective U.S. student loan debt makes up the second largest category of consumer debt with a total value of $1.5 trillion. Yes people, $1.5 trillion.
If these statistics don’t scare you into financial savviness, I don’t know what will. Make paying off your student loan debt, all debt for that matter, one of your top priorities once you graduate. You don’t want the amount of money you owe to your student loans and other creditors to keep you from buying a home, taking vacations, and saving for retirement.
Similar to the way you had to become educated in a specific field of study, you must educate yourself on personal finances. Being financially literate at a young age will better prepare you in 30-40 years when you are looking at retirement. Use your early 20’s to get a head start on building a 401k, investing, and saving money for a rainy day. The sooner you start being financially responsible, the better off you’ll be down the road.
6) Invest in Youself
Learning doesn’t cease once you walk across the stage and receive your diploma. When you graduate from college, you simply leave the structured environment of academic learning. Taking the time to invest in yourself after college is something that can positively impact your future endeavors. Engaging in things such as exercise, networking events, and online learning are ways to invest in yourself. One of my favorite online learning resources is Skillshare, which has over 20, 000 classes to choose from. You can learn anything from creative writing to cooking.
Maintaining your physical health is also something you want to make a priority. Whether it’s joining a gym or creating your own workout plan, invest in your physical fitness. In addition, schedule some time in your week for self-care. Taking care of your mind, body and soul are essential in order to deal with the unpredictability of life.
7) Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff
When you’re fresh out of college the world seems so big and full of opportunity, which it is. One of the hardest parts is learning how to adjust to the ups and downs of life. It’s a skill which only becomes better with experience. Realize that things may not go according to plan and you may have to make sudden shifts along the way. Don’t let these things throw you off course or deter you from attempting new things.
8) Stay in Your Lane
Young adulthood is an interesting transition because you are legally an adult, but you have yet to experience what adulthood is. It’s easy to start comparing your goals, achievements, even personal life to your peers. I was guilty of this and it only made me feel bad about myself. It took some time for me to accept that everyone is in their own lane in life and it’s best if I stayed in mine.
Don’t get so caught up in what everyone else is doing such as getting married and having kids, that you start to think something is wrong with you for not having these things yet. Your 20’s is a time for personal and professional exploration, making mistakes, and learning who you are in the process. Some people figure that out earlier than others, and that’s good for them if they do. So what if it takes you a little longer to discover what you want in life, it’s your life so take all the time you need.
You’ll come to realize that the choices you make have a direct impact on the quality of your life. Therefore, if you want a certain lifestyle you must make choices that will yield that outcome. You can’t achieve that if you are living somebody else’s “dream” life. Stay in your own lane and things will fall into place when the timing is right.
9) Develop Meaningful Relationships
Cultivating meaningful relationships is one of many important tips for college graduates. As you enter adulthood, surround yourself with positive people who support and encourage you. Having a good support system helps you to deal with the growing pains of life. If you’re in toxic relationships and friendships, your outlook on life will often be negative. You eventually become like the people you surround yourself with, so choose your company wisely.
10) Have Fun!
You have entered adulthood which can be scary because you are now responsible for your life. Don’t let the ups and downs of life keep you from wanting to try new things, even if you’re uncertain of the outcome. Enjoy this period of your life. The great thing about youth is that you have time on your side, so create the life that you want. Learn from the setbacks you experience and know that every experience you go through has the potential to teach you something. The future is yours. Keep your head up, believe in yourself, and never settle for less. Congrats to the class of 2019!
Thanks for reading,