great achievement with family and friends, toss your black cap in the air and then find yourself thinking, "What now?"
For some, it's graduate, law or medical school. For others, it's a job you've arranged months before receiving your diploma. But for most, it's a bit of confusion - you've just devoted four years to academics, and now you're supposed to be entering the real world. But how?
Based on my experience, and the experiences of my friends and colleagues, I've compiled ten quick tips for the new college graduate.
1. Make connections. Most twenty-somethings with a job they love will tell you: it's all about networking. Meet as many people as you can and don't be afraid to utilize those connections. Keep in touch! You never know who you'll come in contact with and how it could play into your future.
2. Spice up your resume (seriously). With the job market being what it is, it's extremely important to have a competitive resume. Sure, you may have a high GPA and great experience, but unless your resume is organized in a well-received format, your experience will not speak for itself. Spend time researching different resume formats online and seeking out the expertise of those around you - especially those within your industry. Trust me, most professionals are willing to help!
3. Set up an informational interview. Do a little digging for a company in your industry that you'd see yourself working at and reach out to set up an informational interview. Often times, new graduates may not be experienced enough for a full-time position or even an internship, but professionals are typically willing to shed light on their company to eager hopefuls. This kind of interview can really inspire you to gain the necessary experience to succeed in your industry of choice, as well as give you a chance to impress a few important people along the way.
4. Create business cards. I know, I know - how can you create business cards without a title, right? Wrong. Nothing says driven more than walking into an interview with your own business card or being able to hand a professional you've recently met a printed card with your contact information on it. And the best part is, this is way easier than you think!
A good friend and colleague, who you can catch blogging at Real world pending...student always, suggested I do this as an intern, and it really helped me personally pinpoint where I'd like to see myself professionally. With the right mindset, all you need is a little cardstock and template that fits your personality. Check out the free template I used here.
5. Link into your industry of choice. By now, most individuals know that Linked In is definitely the way to go post-college graduation. But just like your resume, your experience won't speak for itself. It's important to update Linked In profiles and titles with a professional mindset. If you leave your title to read, "Student at the University of Iowa," you're not indicating to employers browsing through profiles that you're looking for a job, let alone the industry you're trying to break into. Instead, try listing a title that indicates who you're trying to become - ie: "Aspiring Public Relations Professional." This way, you're not giving yourself a title that you don't have, but still communicating who you'd like to become.
6. Tweet your heart out. I know many may be skeptical about joining Twitter, but newsflash: everyone who is anyone is on Twitter. Twitter is becoming a flowing source of information that you'll surely miss out on if you don't hop on board. If anything, you don't even have to tweet! Just sign on and start following those with professional and personal interests relevant to your own - from job postings to industry news, you never know where information can take you.
7. Read. Everything, anything. Digest as much information as you can - whether it be the New York Times, Edgar Allen Poe or a popular industry blogger you're starting to follow, being knowledgeable about the world as it pertains to your field of work will only help you as you start interviewing for jobs. Spend your time researching publications (online or print) that you'd like to start following and make it part of your daily routine to read them on a consistent basis. Trust me, future employers and colleagues alike will be impressed!
8. Be on the lookout for industry events. Many large industry groups host free networking events from time to time that are a perfect way for industry hopefuls to meet successful professionals. Do a little digging in your city - you'll be surprised at what you come up with! Just don't forget your business cards. :)
9. Take a break. Everyone's different, but I vividly remember spending the first three weeks after college graduation devoting hours per day to my job applications. After weeks of hundreds of personalized resumes and cover letters, I didn't hear back from one future employer, and became extremely disheartened.
But guess what? Everyone does that. Employers get flooded with applications right around this time, so why not take a break, get your resume right, spend time on the above tips, and when you're ready and more knowledgeable about exactly what you want to do, begin applying.
10. And on that note, plan a trip. Once you're in the real world, time away from the everyday is much more hard to come by. You're young and have nothing holding you back - so take advantage of it! Take a road trip with friends, see all of the concerts you can and spend your days in the sun. You'll be glad you did in the long run.
What tips do you have for new college graduates? And if you're a new graduate yourself, what do you think you'll struggle with most?
j.cole (1 year out)
Friday, May 20, 2011
Wednesday, May 11, 2011
Sunday, May 8, 2011
Exciting news: I’ve recently moved out from under the oh-so-comfortable roof I’ve known nearly my whole life and into a new apartment in the lovely city of Chicago. No more being stuck in the suburbs while friends discover the fast-paced life in the city; finally, for the first time since I’ve graduated college, I feel like an adult. I’m on my own – managing my own living space, my own job, my own life.
But while I truly couldn't be more excited, I guess it’s a bit scary, too. Writing that first big rent check, paying for my own groceries, seeing my hard-earned finances slowly dwindle before my eyes. No more daily Starbucks trips and random shopping sprees – I have to, for the first time in my life, be ultra-conservative in my expenses. It’s definitely going to be a learning experience, but I’m excited to prove to myself and those around me that I can do this.
I’m 23, with a job [career] I absolutely love, and now, the living space to prove my independence as a twenty-something. The journey was definitely not an easy one, but I’m proud to say I’ve come along way.
Based on the great insight of other Chi-city residents and budget-savvy friends, I’ve compiled a few tips I hope to follow to help me manage my new expenses.
1. Track your expenses. A good friend introduced me to a fellow twenty-something blogger’s expense tracker, and I think this is a great idea. Even if I can spend an hour a week sitting down with this tracker and my online banking to record what I’m spending – rent vs. groceries vs. misc (shopping, eating out, etc.), I’ll be able to better gauge where I need to decrease my spending.
2. Savor the leftovers. When I lived with my parents, I rarely ate leftovers. Many times the food sat in its original carry-out container just to be eventually tossed into the trash. Who wants leftovers when Mom makes a delicious meal every night? But now, even after just over a week in my new apartment, I’m surprised at how far just one meal can go – and how much you can actually save because of it. Sure, eating out is clearly more expensive, and decreasing the frequency that I eat out vs. make something homemade will definitely help me save. But obviously, there are going to be those times when eating out is unavoidable – birthdays, date nights, late night pizza splurges ;) – so savoring the leftovers for all their worth can really help.
3. Be selective where you shop. Sure, you want quality groceries, but if you're dying for the Whole Foods homemade guacamole (yum!) then choose to by your other necessities at a cheaper store. That way, you're getting the best of both worlds without sacrificing the items you love.
4. Go public…transportation. Gas is obviously really expensive, so when possible, I'm hoping to maximize my funds by opting for public transportation. For example, taking the L instead of a cab to a further destination, hopping on the Metra to head back to the suburbs, etc. This way, I can learn the in's and out's of real city living and save $$ while doing it. :)
5. Dig for deals. – Groupon, Living Social, etc. Plan nights out around local happy hour deals, hold off on that manicure you've been dying for until you find the perfect Groupon deal for it, and save date nights out for Living Social restaurant deals. It requires a little planning,but these deals are usually worth the extra effort.
6. Set a nightly budget. Many times, when out with friends, it's easy to just toss the bartender your credit card and start a tab without really thinking about the consequences. Before you know it, one night out can turn into over $100 out of your bank account. So when going out and thinking you might be tempted to splurge, set yourself a cash-only limit. Take out the amount of cash you want to spend and make conscious decision to go paper - not plastic. After you're out of cash, you're done spending for the night.
7. Grow your own veggies. Thinking this will be summer fun in the summertime. Get a big pot and grow some tomatoes - so easy! And before you know it, you'll have fresh tomatoes for every recipe - saving you money on fresh produce while adding a new hobby to your list as well.
8. Hold your gym for the summer. Put your gym membership on hold for June - September and get active outdoors - run, bike, walk outside. Most gyms will allow you to put your membership on hold with advance notice and some type of excuse.
I could go on forever, but here are a few others I really liked:
- Wear your clothes more than once (or twice) before taking them to the cleaners
- Hold off on haircuts for longer than usual or find a local stylist that charges less
- Buy a cute pack of blank cards vs. buying a new card for every occasion
- Like your favorite brands on Facebook - many have easy coupons and deals for fans to access