Graduation is a major step in life. It marks the end of an era of education and the start of a new career or other life adventure. Whether you plan to go to work, graduate school, or take time to travel the globe, follow these tips to get ready for the "real world" as an adult with a college degree.
1. Get Your Career Wardrobe Ready
While some Silicon Valley companies let you come to work in jeans and a hoodie, most jobs require you to dress the part. That means anything from "business casual" jeans and a dress shirt to a "business formal" suit.
Whatever your plans, make sure to have a professional suit you can wear to interviews and formal functions and a variety of outfits that are appropriate for a business casual or semi-formal workplace.
If you shop smart, you can put together a career ready wardrobe for under $200.
2. Line Up Post-Graduation Housing
The days of dorms, Greek housing, and off-campus apartments will soon be behind you. With the end of college housing, you have a few decisions to make on where to live next.
According to Student Loan Hero, you should do your best to keep housing costs to a minimum after graduation, particularly if you have student loans to pay. Also, remember that plenty of your peers will be moving back with their parents to save money, and there is no shame in living rent-free for a while after graduation, especially if you have not found a job yet.
If you're planning to leave your home or college town once the school year is over, it's important that you have a plan- and put in the research. For the best reasons to move, tips on choosing your ideal city, and even resources for finding the housing of your dreams, be sure to check out Moving to a New City after Graduation.
3. Make a Bullet-Proof Resume
Your resume is your first impression with a prospective employer, so make it a really good one. Diploma Frame's CHC Blog suggests that your on-campus career center is a great resource for writing, critiquing, and improving a resume.
As a general rule, your resume should be one page long, highlight your academic achievements, list out any past jobs and internships with relevant detail, and show any additional noteworthy awards and leadership experience.
TheMuse.com has some great resume resources for recent graduates, like this blog featuring the 7 most common cover letter mistakes of entry-level candidates- and even a step-by-step guide to help you draft your post-college resume!
4. Job, Internship, or Grad School?
The ideal situation for most college students is to have a job offer upon graduation. However, this situation is increasingly rare for today's graduates. Instead, many entry-level candidates are looking at other routes to gain more experience, including paid and unpaid internships.
It's not the end of the world if you don't have a job lined up on graduation day. However, you'll want to put in some serious work toward finding your first career job soon after you have your diploma in-hand.
Finding a job can be a full-time job in itself, so be sure to allot enough time in your schedule to prepare and send in excellent cover letters and resumes customized for each company and position.
5. Prepare a Budget
Employed or jobless, in your own apartment or living back home with mom and dad, you'll need to create a budget. Include expenses like rent, groceries, car insurance, maintenance, and gas.
This great budget guide from NerdWallet.com can help you get started.
6. Make a Student-Loan-Payoff Plan
Every student loan is different, so pull up your own paperwork and figure out exactly how much you will owe each month and when you have to start making payments. This is a vital pre-graduation step, according to FastWeb.
Factor in your student loan payments in your budget, and do what you can to make early and extra payments to save money on interest. The Federal Student Aid website from the Department of Education can help you understand your repayment options and find the best plan for your situation.
7. Get Health Insurance
Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, most college graduates can stay on their parents' health insurance until they turn 26 years old. If you are too old to qualify or your parents are kicking you off of their plan, you have a few options for health coverage.
In the interim while deciding on a long-term healthcare plan, you can look to a short-term plan to fill the gap. While short-term medical does not meet Affordable Care Act requirements to avoid the tax penalty, it is a great option for a month or two while waiting for your job's insurance to kick in, or while finding a qualifying plan from the marketplace.
Whatever you do, do not forget about insurance. The tax penalty can be costly, and getting seriously ill or injured without insurance costs even more. Protect yourself and your finances with quality health insurance.