As the month of May approaches, a new class of Ohio State students will be graduating and heading off into the real world. As a recent graduate (how long am I allowed to say that?) I wanted to share some advice I wish I would have received before I was handed my diploma and singing Carmen with 10,000 of my closest friends.
- Make a budget, but it’s okay to spend money on yourself sometimes. After you graduate, you have to balance your income, bills like student loans and rent, and other expenses like food and (hopefully) starting a savings account for those inevitable rainy days. One thing you may not think about when budgeting is that you should set aside money to do things you enjoy. Whether that is buying a new book, a new outfit, or saving up to take a trip somewhere warm, trying to save all your money will drive you crazy and result you in spending money you didn’t account for.
- When finding a job, make sure the company is a good fit for you. Finding my first job was one of the most stressful things I have ever been through. While searching for a job, I was constantly reminded of the fact that more than half of America’s recent college graduates are either unemployed or working in a job that doesn’t require a bachelor’s degree (The Atlantic). I felt like being unable to find a job and moving back home would be some type of defeat (which it isn’t, by the way). Because of this, I accepted the second position I was offered without hesitation. Almost immediately after I started working, I realiIzed something, the culture of the company you work for is extremely important for your success, not just your ability to do the job. The company I worked for was great and I was really lucky, but I realized it didn't match exactly with what I really wanted. So, I suggest that you think about what is important to you, are you willing to get paid a little less to work at a company that values work life balance? Do you want a strict 9-5 or would you rather have a flexible schedule with the expectation that you will be getting calls outside of business hours? Be honest with yourself and the companies you interview with.
- Think about what you want your day to look like. Do you like the idea of working at a desk or would you rather have the world be your office? Do you thrive on routine or do you like to be constantly solving new problems and thinking outside the box? Every type of job has its pros and cons and there is no wrong answer. Think about what your perfect day would be like and look for a job that gives this to you.
- Your first job may not be your dream job, and that’s okay too. You know what you want your perfect day to look like, great! However, you may have to get a promotion or two to get that job, that’s okay. At least you know what you are working towards. Who knows, your idea of what your perfect day will look like can change but the skills and experiences you pick up along the way can only help you.
- You are going to miss school, but you are going to love the “real world” too. Transitioning out of college isn’t easy. All your life you have been working toward the next step. First it was honor roll, then it was getting into a great college, then it was graduating, then it was landing a job. Now that you have that job, what are you working towards? For me, the hardest part was not having a clear answer to that question. Figuring out what you really want out of a career after you start working gives you a perspective you simply cannot have while still in school. Find out what really drives you, and set new goals. Maybe going out every Thursday is a thing of the past, but loving the life you are creating for yourself doesn’t have to be.