Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Six Months Post Graduation

Hello friends! It’s been a while since I’ve been able to sit down and blog. Last time I wrote was in April and I had just finished raising money for Relay for Life. Since then I’ve graduated college, got a job, and bought a van. Things are really looking up for me and I’m really happy with where my life has gone since I’ve graduated. So what is it like to graduate and become an adult? I’m in my sixth month of being adult and they are some awesome things (paychecks), but then there are boring things (health insurance). And in reality you’re starting over again, whether you’re moving to a new town, starting a new job, or moving back in with your parents. It’s a change and everyone hates change, but unfortunately we can’t stay in college forever. Well you can, but it gets pretty damn expensive after a while. So I’ve come up with a list of things to expect when you graduate/how to prepare for life after college. And remember all of these opinions are my own and other people could tell you something completely different, but whatever its’ my blog so I’ll write what I want.

1. Before you graduate everyone will ask you what your plans are after graduation. This is so true. You know those Buzzfeed articles with all the GIFs and memes about graduating college and how people ask you what you’re doing and it’s always someone banging their head against a desk? That’s exactly how it is in real life. Pretty much your entire senior year people will ask and every time you will probably respond with “I have no effin clue!” 9 out of 10 college graduates don’t have a job lined up after college. (I made that statistic up, but it has to be pretty close) So if you’re one of those 9 don’t worry about it. After a while of people asking me what I was doing with my life I got creative and told them I was moving to an exotic place called my Mom’s couch.

2. If you’re in college and you want to get a job someday, then you have to be involved. I know that this sounds like a Public Service Announcement for Student Services or whatever, but I’m not kidding. During college I had three internships and had leadership positions in three student organizations. And my resume looks awesome…and I got a job. So I must have done something right. This is the reality now. Going to college and getting a degree is not enough anymore. Employers want to see that you’re involved outside of class and that you have a passion for something other than beer pong. And I know it can be intimidating submitting your resume or walking into a room where you know no one, but I promise you won’t regret it later. Just do it!

3. Another Public Service Announcement that I have is to utilize the Career Services department on your campus. During my finals months of college I was probably in there every week having them look at my cover letters and resumes and when I finally got a job offer I called them and asked for tips on negotiating. They are talented people and they know what they’re talking about. Plus it’s free so use them!

4. Savor every moment of your last days in college. Because just like in high school, the minute you get your diploma everything changes. People will start to move away (or you will move), you will start working 40 hours a week, and then all of sudden six months passes and you don’t know where they went. So take a ton of pictures, stay out late, and don’t worry about the future yet, just enjoy the present. #DeepQuote

5. Take a break between college and your new job. Whatever you do, don’t graduate on Saturday and then start working full-time on Monday. Take a break. Even if it’s just one day where you lie around and watch Netflix all day. Do it. You have been working your butt off these last 4 or 5 years and you deserve a break. Or if you don’t have a job lined up yet, just go back home and hang out with your parents for a while. They will appreciate the company. I took three weeks off between graduating and starting my new job and it was great. I watched Netflix, visited my friends, drove my Grandma around, and just hung out. It is the most exhilarating feeling knowing that I didn’t have to rush to a meeting, go write a paper, or check your schedule.  

6. When you do get that job offer, don’t be afraid to negotiate a little. As I was applying and starting my career I was told that there’s nothing wrong with negotiating and standing your ground for what you feel you’re worth. But there is a fine line that you don’t want to cross when negotiating. For example, if they offer you a salary of $30,000, then don’t come back and ask for $45,000. I was given the advice to ask for 10% more. So if they offer you $30,000 then you say you were hoping to be somewhere around $32,000. Or if they can’t give you more money then ask for another week of vacation. And don’t be worried that it will come off as arrogant. If anything your employer will respect you more, because you respect yourself more. It’s really important that you know you self-worth and what a huge asset you will be to this company.

7. Pay you debts. Whether it’s student loans, credit cards, or something else. Pay that shit off. I completely understand that this won’t happen overnight, but you need to establish a plan as to how to pay it off. The last thing you want to do is fast forward five years and still have the same amount (or more) of debt and just be making the minimum payments. So sit down, figure out how much you owe, and establish a plan on how you will pay that debt off!

8. You still have to live like a poor college student. Don’t think that just because you have this fancy new job that you can start buying bottle service and caviar. It’s important to live within your means and really start budgeting and planning ahead. I know, this is the adult part that really sucks, because you actually have to start becoming an adult. You may get paid every two weeks or twice a month so it’s important that you don’t go and buy the whole bar shots right away once you get paid. Because Monday will come and you’ll still have to buy food, or gas to drive to work, or your rent. You’re welcome to splurge now and then, just not too much. : )

9. What’s a 401K? Start putting money away for retirement. I know what you’re thinking…seriously Whitney? I just started working full-time and now you want me to save for something that’s 40 years away? Yes. Out of all the things I may joke about in this blog post, this is one thing I’m serious about. If your company offers a 401K plan and offers to match whatever money you put away up to a certain percentage, enroll in it as soon as you can. It is way easier to save money and have it taken out of your paycheck before you see it versus physically actually having to do the transaction on your own. Trust me, start saving now, and you 65 year old self will thank you.

10. Last, but not least, focus on yourself. It can be really a challenging time to figure out what you want or who you are in this transition. And it’s really important to stay true to yourself and figure out where you want to go in life. You may decide that you don’t want to work in the corporate life and you want to work in non-profit, or that you want to travel right away and see the world. Whatever you decide, do it for yourself. Not for your parents, not for you friends, just do it for yourself.

That’s it! That’s all I’ve got folks! I hope this post will help some of my friends who will be graduating soon or maybe some young professionals who need to get their shit together. Becoming an “adult” can be really intimidating, but it can also be really fun. Don’t look at it as the “rest of your life.” Meh. Look at it as the beginning of your life or a new chapter in your book! Thanks for reading!