Leaving home for college got you out into the world on your own for the first time. Now that you’ve graduated, you realize that being on your own means something else entirely.
In college, you had a myriad of support systems in a microverse focused on helping you to harness your potential. Resources were at your fingertips. You’ll leave papers for reports, but transitioning into the workplace from college signals the shift into adulting in a completely new environment with high expectations.
The economy isn’t helping — Millennials still have a tough time finding a job, with unemployment at 13 percent for their generation, higher than the national average of five percent. Is the job search still going, or have you secured a job? Here are a few tips to ease the transition from college to the workplace.
1. Develop a Healthy Schedule
Working an eight-hour day or two jobs takes a toll on the mind and body. It’s not like taking classes with periods of time between. You won’t have time to meet up with friends for a drink or day trip like before. Staying up too late will affect your performance at work, and too many mess ups adversely affect your job security.
Develop a healthy schedule from the start. Have a transition time before and after work periods, and treat your time out as self-care but with responsibility. Create a well-rounded life that adds to your life satisfaction and gets you on the career track you most desire. A healthy work-life balance is vital.
2. Clean Up Your Nutrition and Save With Meal Prep
Coffee is forever — it got you through student days and will get you through your workday. But you need whole food to lead a healthy, long life. Meal prepping is the way to go without having to worry about one more thing on your plate. Focus on eating the nutritious and delicious food on your plate instead. You also won’t overeat and overspend.
Meal prepping isn’t hard. With the help of apps, find recipes and shop for various dietary needs. Create grab-and-go breakfasts, like spinach and ham egg bakes — chop the ingredients, sauté the vegetables and bake inside a muffin tray with eggs to bind it all together. Variate — turn a whole chicken into fajita wraps and chicken soup. Stock up on basics, like beans and rice. Take your shopping week by week, and buy what you can in bulk.
3. Tidy Your Social Media Presence
Remove or make private your college party photos, and do the same with other questionable images. Untag yourself from these photos on profiles of friends. Do the same with other posts, and unlike and unfollow unprofessional pages and groups. Arrange your settings so that you must approve all photo tags and postings. You can also make your profiles unavailable to public searches and adjust other privacy settings.
Focus more on LinkedIn than other social media profiles right now. Fill in your experience. Get relevant endorsements and recommendations. Expand your online professional network.
Don’t use the same email on your resume that you used to sign up for social media. Tidy up your online presence to look as professional as possible.
4. Make and Follow a Budget
Your first real paycheck will make you light up and get ready to do some celebratory spending. You say you won’t overspend, but it happens.
You have goals for that check: a drink or two with friends over a nice dinner, an outing with your parents, a deposit on a nice apartment, better clothes and travel goals. At first glance, all of these appear reasonable, but it adds up quickly. You don’t want to find yourself behind on two months of rent or power.
Your disposable income gives you a measured overview of your household’s financial resources. This amount is what you have left over after income taxes save, spend or invest. Your discretionary income takes into account life's necessities, such as rent, utilities, clothes and food. This income is the type you grow your budget from to judge reasonable spending for excesses such as lattes and entertainment. Carrying cash and leaving your card at home is an effective way to stop overspending your budget.
5. Contact Student Loan Providers ASAP
When you graduate, you have a small grace period before you must pay up with interest. Know what your interest rates are for various loans and when your due date is so that you will make on-time payments.
Don’t fret if you haven’t found a job yet or are struggling with the workplace transition. Contact your student loan providers as soon as possible, and don’t let late fees and payments pile up. You’ll risk defaulting on your student loans — 3,000 individuals default daily on student loans. If that happens, you have a shot at rehabilitating your loans, but your credit score has already decreased dramatically. Call student loan providers to go into forbearance, agreeing to put off payments due to hardship, or find a better payment plan.
6. Track Business News in Your Industry
Some professionals know exactly where they want to be in 10 years, and others are still figuring that out by getting their feet wet in the field. Track industry news to remain informed. If you have an eye on a new city, always check the business section of the newspaper or local business journal to determine company growth and how that affects your career.
7. Follow the Dress Code Fashionably
You must follow your work’s dress code, but that doesn’t mean you can’t show off your personal style. Stock up on professional basics in cuts that flatter you, but look inside your closet before you go shopping. Choose your professional power item, like a tie or lavender heels. Choose two or three neutrals, such a gray pencil skirt and a black blazer. Select a color or two for accents, and you’ve put together a professional outfit that reflects your personality.
The dress code is your template to improve upon. Play with length, neckline, prints, color and layering to create versatile and fashionable outfit choices. A tailor improves many clothes that look baggy or cheap and do not fit in the best way.
8. Work Hard but Remain True to Yourself
In college, if a class or professor wasn’t working out, you had time to switch. In life, the stakes are higher, but that doesn’t mean you should stick with a job that conflicts with your values, morals or needs. Do due diligence for yourself first, and make sure your job is the right fit. Ask yourself: Will I be happy here? How will it grow my skills? Are there opportunities for advancement? Are the pay and benefits what I need? Work hard, but remain true to yourself.
Start saving in case you change your mind later, and if you do, give proper notice. This isn’t your last job, and recommendations from past employers matter.
Transitioning from a college career to begin the career you prepared yourself for feels as overwhelming as it is exhilarating. You must establish a reasonable pace and set of expectations for yourself as you move forward with this phase of your life.
Keep a work-life balance along with a budget and meal plan. Stay on top of student loans. Tidy up your social media presence. Research the company you plan to work for, and ask yourself hard questions before accepting a role. Work hard, but realize that life is more than work — it’s something to live with meaning.