You’ve toiled, labored and lost plenty of sleep over the last four years, but you’ve finally earned that coveted college degree. As you pack up your dorm room or small apartment, you feel confident the knowledge gained in the classroom has prepared you for life outside of your college campus. Fast-forward six months. Although that communications or physical therapy degreehas provided you with a wealth of useful knowledge and skills, it hasn’t taught you how to find a job, pay the rent or keep the lights on. If you’re struggling with making the transition from academic to gainfully employed adult, don’t crack under the pressure of responsibility; follow a few tips to help you survive life after college.
Come to Grips With Your Entry-Level Status
You scour the Internet and local job boards in search of a position befitting your prowess and knowledge. Unfortunately, as a recent graduate, you probably don’t possess that other marketable skill required to land an upper-level position: experience. Read through the job descriptions of many upper-level positions — almost all require at least three to five years of practical experience. It might not be glamorous, but in order to work your way up the ladder, you must start on one of the bottom rungs.
Formulate a Realistic Budget
Between your summer job, a little financial aid and some assistance from your parents, you were able to make it through college. You heard the term “budget” thrown around by your parents, but for the most part, you were able to survive on frozen dinners. The unfortunate reality of life after college often doesn’t occur to a post-graduate until that first car payment, rent payment or utility bill comes due. In order to survive the leaner post-graduate years, it’s important to formulate a realistic budget and stick to it. For instance, place at least 40 percent of your weekly paycheck aside to pay for the rent and utilities. Another 20 to 30 percent should go toward paying for your car, groceries and other incidentals. That leaves around 10 percent for fun, 10 percent for a rainy day and 10 percent for health and life insurance. It might seem insurmountable, but with a little careful planning, it’s possible to live well while remaining within your means.
It’s Networking, Not Socializing
College life is filled with parties and trips to your favorite pub with friends. Sure, you could still spend your Saturday nights playing darts with your college chums, or take the opportunity to turn socializing into networking. For instance, if you’ve earned a healthcare administration degree, consider joining a professional organization or group within the field. Attending classes, corporate events and mixers is a great way to make contacts and get noticed. Once you’re ready to apply for another position, you’ll thank yourself for spending your free time chatting with your superiors and making valuable connections at club meetings.
Staying Out of Debt
A recent survey conducted by PNC Bank found that on average 60 percent of 20-something post-graduates are burdened with at least $45,000 worth of debt. Many times the debt is accrued while in school, but often a recent college graduate will try to make ends meet by pulling out a nearly maxed-out credit card. Formulating and staying true to a realistic budget is one great way to keep out of debt. If you’re struggling with student loan and credit card debt, don’t hesitate to speak to your parents or consult a certified financial planner. With a little hard work and perseverance, it’s possible to get your debt under control, or keep it from piling up in the first place.
The first few years after college can be difficult, but it is possible to weather the storm without getting in over your head. Just remember to stick with a job you can tolerate while looking for your dream position and, if you’re struggling, put the credit card away and look to your parents or a professional for help.
About the Author: Samantha Hawkins is a guest blogger and full-time student. Samantha is currently earning a degree in physical therapy and hopes to graduate completely debt-free.