Post-Grad Survival Guide

The feeling of finishing your last semester of college is indescribable. You just took your final exams, turned in all of your assignments, and you’re ready to walk across the stage and enjoy life. Life has just fallen into place and all things are now in your favor because you have a degree.

So you think.

Eventually reality will hit you and your life won’t be glossed over in the “earlybird” Instgram filter any longer. The first step to living the best possible post graduate life is following GenTwenty’s Immediate Post-Grad Survival Guide!

There are seven things all post-grads should do before and during their transition into the “real world”:

1. Don’t panic!

Just like many other college graduates, I was unprepared to tackle the “real world” and when things weren’t going my way during my job hunt and I panicked. No job offers pushed me into a part-time job and freelance work. The thing to remember is that you’re not alone and many people succeed later in life.

There are a huge amount of graduates who don’t even use their degree, have low paying careers or wait months and months for a decent job offer. It’s not the end of the world if you take longer to achieve your goals, it just means the end result will add to your success story years from now!

Remember, another person’s success does not mean you have failed.

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2. Don’t compare yourself to others.

I watched as my former classmates moved to big cities, bought new cars, and received job offers from amazing companies and I began the “comparison game.” Comparison is so dangerous because it leads to jealousy and “why me” syndrome. Neither of which are a good look for anyone!

Learn to work hard regardless of the next person is doing. You don’t have to keep up with Sarah making $75k right out of college or John who’s been in Europe for six months. Your path to success is unique, so stop the comparisons!

3. Create a plan for the next year.*

Once you’ve gotten your head in the right place, create a tentative plan for the coming year. Include whether you’ll be working or traveling and a plan to achieve your goals. Life has a way of laughing at our plans so it may be best not to plan every single moment. Be sure to leave room for unpredictable things!

Ask yourself, what do you want to do? What type of job would you like to have? Then go out and explore those opportunities.

*Disclaimer: There’s a very good chance your plan may not go as planned. In that event, return to step one!

4. Revamp your resume and tackle your career.

Before you begin your job hunt, make sure your resume is up to par! I wrote another GenTwenty guide for increasing your resume visibility, but your resume is only part of your presentation. Know what you have to offer and present yourself. Send emails and attend networking events to gain connections, while also reconnecting with past employers and people in the industry you already know.

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It’s a good idea to look on LinkedIn and Indeed and find job descriptions for positions that you would want to have later down the line. Develop those skills now so that you’ll be an even better candidate when the time comes to move from your entry-level position.

Once you’ve secured a position, have that same descriptions in mind as you begin to complete your duties so you can get the most out of your new job. Your manager will be impressed when you complete things that may not be in your job description and you could find yourself in a higher position sooner.

5. Develop a budget.

Whether you find a job soon after graduation or months later, it’s very important to manage your money. We’re all guilty of eating out before we put money in our savings account, but it’s sure to catch up with you when you’re forced to spread out $20 later down the road.

Start a budget worksheet or download an app like Mint to keep an eye on your spending. If you took out student loans, you also need to look repayment plans and plan for the future. It’s also a good time to look at your credit score and see where you can improve.

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Related: Finance 101: Building a Budget

6. Generate income from a side hustle.

Use your skills to gain extra income through a side business when you’re still developing your career so that it can also grow with you! You could drive for Uber, create websites or anything in between to save money or have more money to put towards traveling, I mean bills.

Sign up for websites like Scripted and Fiverr if you can offer creative services as well as develop an online portfolio and website to gain customers!

Related: Creative Ideas for Your Next Side Hustle

7. Enjoy yourself!

Take the time to do something you didn’t have time to do while you were in school! Travel, become a fitness instructor, go wine tasting or anything you’ve always wanted to do but put off. Now is a good time to start new things and have fun!

Graduating from college is a huge achievement! There are many people who don’t return to school after their first semester and many people who wish they had the opportunity to pursue a degree.

Just because life won’t be waking up everyday to attend a few hours of class and then hanging out, doesn’t mean you can’t successfully tackle the good and new things that come with post-grad!