Seven Things Every College Graduate Should Know
I was the first to attend and graduate from college in my family. Though this was a huge feat, I was absolutely clueless. I was a broke college graduate with absolutely no idea what to do next. With a few internships under my belt, I worked on my resume and sent it out to hundreds of employers. I ended up taking a job that didn't pertain to the field I studied for because I needed a “real job.”
I worked there for several years before moving on. My job paid the bills, and I was grateful for it, but I never had a plan after college. I assumed everything would just fall into place.
Life may take its own course, but having a blueprint helps eliminate anxiety. I encourage you to sit down and create a strategic plan.
The Real World Is Tough
Were you caught off-guard like I was post-college? I knew that life was going to be different, but I wasn’t ready!
In the real world, you'll have real bills, real responsibility, and real bill collectors who couldn't care less about your stories of hardship and fear of "adulting." Ready or not, the real world is waiting for you, so prepare as much as possible to transition.
Networking is key. Join organizations that reflect your interests, whether they're business-related or recreational. For instance, you can attend meetups to connect with like-minded individuals or even religious organizations to meet others who share your faith. You should also be open to meeting others who are different from you or who might know more than you do.
I also encourage finding a mentor. I worked with a life coach when I was in college. She helped me discover my passion and guided me on how to pursue it and find fulfillment in my life.
Credit Is Queen
Growing up in a household where financial literacy was not taught, I had no point of reference for credit and how important it was. I didn't understand its significance for future goals (like buying a home, needing to borrow from a lender, etc).
Unfortunately, I made some mistakes early on that I was unaware would negatively affect my credit. Make sure you develop a healthy and responsible relationship with money from the get-go.
Student Debt Is Meant To Be Paid Back
I understood when I took out student loans that the money was borrowed, meaning I was expected to pay it all back once I completed my studies and obtained my degree. However, when six months post-graduation came along, I was having a difficult time making payments, having not budgeted my money.
Learn to budget and factor in your future payments into your monthly expenses. Consider consolidating your payments. Research your repayment options and set those payments to automatic. This helps eliminate late payments, which will negatively affect your credit score.
Get On-The-Job Training
Participating in a case study gives you a sense of what to expect out in the field. Even with all the knowledge you gain from class, nothing is like on-the-job training and experience.
For example, I loved the idea of writing as an editorial assistant during one of my internships. It was exciting. Later on, when I actually worked at a local newspaper company, I hated the experience. It was very routine and it did not challenge me. That's how I knew I wanted something different.
Like most, I was always taught to get an education and a good job with benefits. Being a first-generation Haitian-American, it was always important that I take advantage of what this incredible country has to offer. But to my parents, entrepreneurship was not an option because it was too risky. They're right -- it is risky and success is not guaranteed, but those are the very things that attracted me to it.
I have worked for incredible corporations that have laid me off, asked me to choose them over college and fired me without notice. Entrepreneurship grants you the freedom to do what you love. You have the option to choose what lights your soul on fire and do it.
Who Says You Actually Need A Degree?
I am working as a full-time, certified life coach and I absolutely love what I do! But I only became certified after obtaining my college degree. Though you appreciate everything you've learned while in college, you don't necessarily need a degree to do what you want to do professionally. I am grateful for my college experience and it helped shape my perspective, but every time I think about those student loans, well — you get where I'm coming from.
The mission of Next Steps Navigation is helping college graduates navigate the ups and downs of finding their place in the world, by finding their right next step. Recognizing the huge gap between getting a college degree and the realities of entering the workforce, we developed our coaching program to help families navigate this critical transition. We’ll meet you where you are and get you pointed in the right direction to choose a job – and a life – that you love.