Get ready – graduation is around the corner
By Tracy Wright
6 Things to do Before Graduation
Here are seven important things you should do before your tenure at school comes to a close.
- Enjoy the rest of your college experience. You won’t ever get this time back and nothing will compare to your time in school. Try to really soak in the sights and sounds of a normal school day. Soon they will be replaced by completely new experiences.
- Build a list of mentors to contact when you graduate. This is your introduction to networking. These should be people you admire and who have helped you. Keep in touch with these people. You never know how they could help you or you can help them in the future.
- Set up a few informal interviews. Take a look at your industry and identify a few movers and shakers. Connect with these people on LinkedIn, introduce yourself and meet them for coffee. You are not looking for a job, so this isn’t a formal interview but a great way to get your face and name in the minds of others in your industry.
- Understand that you are leaving the comfort of “regulated time.” You and your peers likely track your time and progress class by class, semester by semester. After graduation, people will progress and move through life at different paces. If you find yourself “behind” others, don’t be jealous. If you find yourself “ahead,” don’t be judgmental.
- Be proud of yourself. Whether you will be valedictorian or passing by the skin of your teeth, you are graduating with a degree. It’s your proof of persistence and diligence.
- Check your privilege. Having a degree doesn’t make you better than someone without one. We all bring our own experiences and unique viewpoint and skill set to any situation.
Rules of Financial Freedom
The graduation season is the perfect time to get intimate with your personal finances.
You are probably familiar with the financial stories making headlines across the country: billions of dollars in student loan debt. Millennials are “entitled” and “spend selfishly.”
Millennials delay getting married, purchasing homes and starting families at a historically unprecedented rate. The list goes on.
Millennials, in fact, are a generation dealing with higher debt and lower wages. But this does not mean you have to be disadvantaged by the system.
With the right strategy and due diligence, financial freedom is yours for the taking.
Make a Budget
Budgets help us understand our fiscal responsibility. It is one thing to know that you have to pay rent and utilities every month. It is quite another to see those amounts listed on a spreadsheet and see the pittance that is left over.
Making and sticking to a budget means living within your means — a lesson that will help you succeed later in life.
Find a Job
Any job. Finding a job and making money should be high on your priority list.
You also should accept that this job will most likely have nothing to do with what you really want to do. Welcome to adulthood. While you should always keep your passions in sight, you also have to provide the basics for yourself: food, a roof over your head and clothes on your body.
Don’t Ignore Student Loans
There is no faster way to tank your credit score than to ignore the massive amounts of money you borrowed to help you earn that degree. Even small loans can become big problems if shoved to the side and ignored.
Get on a payment plan and start knocking your loan out little by little. Increase the amount you pay as you grow in your career.
Make Your Money Work for You
Take advantage of employer-matched 401(k)s. This is essentially free money. Meet with a personal financial advisor. These professionals listen to your financial goals and help you create a path to achieve them.
Graduating and Living at Home
More graduates than ever are deciding to live at home during their college years or to return home directly after graduation.
According to the Pew Research Center, more than 32 percent of 18- to 34-year-olds lived with their parents in 2014, which is more than in any other living arrangement.
They also are staying at home for longer. According to a survey conducted by job website company Indeed, 36 percent of graduating seniors plan to live at home for at least a year or more after graduation.
It is important to remember that while you might still be dwelling in your childhood abode, you — and your parents — are entering a new chapter in your lives and relationship.
This means the rules might (and should) change.
Have a frank conversation about expectations. If everyone is on the same page, you are less likely to wind up feeling surprised or hurt. For example, do your parents want to enforce a curfew? Do you expect to save money while living at home, so you would rather not “pay rent?” These are important questions to ask before your final agreement is made. It is vital to maintain healthy two-way communication. Before getting offended by the idea of a curfew, try to understand why your parents wish to enforce the rule.
Understand how you will contribute. Whether or not you contribute financially to the household, you should most definitely contribute in other ways. This is the courtesy of living with other people. Maybe you offer to handle all the laundry or to plan dinners while you live there. These types of responsibility serve as a great introduction to what it’s like managing a household and will help you learn to manage and prioritize your time.
Rules are in place for respect — not ridicule. Remember that your family is still your family, not roommates. Picking up after yourself is a sign of respect both for yourself and of those around you. If you are choosing to live at home, then understand and respect the benefits of that choice. You might have a curfew, but you don’t have to pay the mortgage. Because you lived in this home as a child, it is easy to view rules off the cuff as an extension of your childhood. But you are not being babied — you are being given a chance to show off your maturity.
Hitting the Job Market
How you present yourself professionally is a key component to getting noticed and creating new opportunities. Here are a few tips to get you off on the right track.
Make sure your resume and other professional documents are up to par. In many cases, your resume and professional social profiles are the first impression you get to leave on leaders in your industry.
It is important to keep them looking fresh and the information up to date. Your information and qualifications should be easy to identify and written in clear and concise language.
You don’t get bonus points for using 10-dollar words. Let your education and experience speak for itself.
Refine your power outfit
You don’t want to go out and purchase an entire “professional wardrobe” before you get a job — especially when you don’t even know what job you will land, what the work culture is like and what the demands of the work require.
All you need is one “power” outfit to wear to interviews. This ensemble should make you feel comfortable and confident. Invest in quality pieces that fit very well.
This is the time to invest in tailoring — which might not be as expensive as you think.
How we look and feel makes a great difference in the success or demise of an interview.
Attend networking events
Acquiring a job is much easier when people know your name and recognize your face.
This is why professionals network. Networking is not about self-promotion. It is about forming relationships. When talking with people, you want to be sincere with your comments.
Make an effort to really get to know the people in your industry. While it might feel awkward to put yourself out there or talk to people you don’t know, take comfort in the fact that you aren’t alone. Many people feel this way.
Be kind and stay authentic.