How to Survive the Life After College
Don't go outside the college. It is a jungle out there.
- Rodney Dangerfield in 'Back to school'
Part 1: What to do while still in college
Increasingly, more people say that you must decide what your career will be like in the future and then you choose a major to support your vision about your future.
This is a good piece of advice, although one thinks it might cause people to narrow the intellectual horizon of a young person. Maybe the student is meant to read 'The Sun Also Rises', 'The True Believer' or 'Rise and fall of the Third Reich' after college is over. This writer read those after his kid was born.
The only problem with the 'choose a career first' method is few of us have a good idea of what a career is like at age 18 or so. However people know what doctors, pharmacists, medical technicians, programmers do, so many would start with one of those.
Modified idea: Pick any major, but prefer those with opportunities for internships, voluntary work, workshops, interaction with industry, industry-sponsored events etc., so you have an idea how you liked the career while you are still in college. It is also suggested you prioritize graduate programs that pay for themselves with teaching or research assistantships.
Student debt is a national problem in the United States. Figure out early which graduate degrees are worth the debt. Some have begun to question if graduate school is worthwhile for them, many people interested in trade skills (plumbing etc) might be better off with a high school diploma or a cheaper community college at best.
Part 2: How to survive and win in life after college
This topic has been covered more than others in the past 10 years or so (this is 2016) and the general big ideas are simple enough:
- Learn to write a resume catered to job your looking for
Sure, you will not have much relevant work experience, you can still bulk up your resume into some respectability by adding personal projects/volunteer work etc on it.
- Cover letters are not that big but learn to write an awesome cover letter anyway
- When you get a job, learn to budget, learn to save
Learn some essential kitchen skills, start to cook and make the basic meals yourself. Google is your best friend. Also, do your research before you set on a place to live. It is a good idea to share living space and continue the college life well into your working life.
- When you don't get a job, get any job and reskill (if you have the time and money)
- Add useful new people to your network (online, offline) everyday
This means you will be looking for and meeting new people. You will share some common ground, there will perhaps be a silenet assessment of potential on both sides, and rest will be history.
- Know how to re-purpose your 'useless' college degree
Please read the guide about what to do with your college degrees for more on this. The main point is: There are no useless degrees. What matters is how you use them.
- Work on those additional skills and experience
- About your student loans
We already covered the saving money part. Some of the good employers will help you pay off the loans. Please, please find these good souls. The government gives support if you choose to work in a rural opportunity zone. Meanwhile, do your best to make the payments and maintain a good enough credit score. This nation loves most the people who take credit and punishes most the people who take credit. Nice.
- Prepare for Your First Job
The basics, the basic- Be on time, be organized, be informed, be enthusiastic, know the company culture, build relationships and so on. There is a separate guide to that somewhere in this place. Just let's say that don't get caught up in the moment, thinking everything is going to be fine and that the employer and the HR is your best friend. Look after yourself, okay?
- This will be a long ride
Keep your self healthy. You will be working for a long, long while. Build good personal habits and smart work habits. Give yourself some 'you' time'. Don't lose sight of what the important things in your life are. Good luck.
I’m a big fan of education for its own sake, but I’d add this to #7: If you’re considering becoming a full-time graduate student, That way, if your graduate degree doesn’t give you a clear path into a job, you’re not concurrently dealing with more debt.
Thank you for reading.
This guide is from The Success Manual, which contains 200+ guides to succeeding in business, career and personal life. Get the pdf ebook for $12 only.