It’s just happened: you’re finally done with school and you’re realizing all of the stuff you suddenly need to know about in order to be a successful adult. There’s no doubt that it can be overwhelming to realize how much you need to know and how much you need to keep track of. But with a little bit of guidance and some experience, you’ll soon realize that there may be lots of little things you need to remember in order to be self-sufficient, but none of them have to be so scary!
Take an Honest Look at Your Career Goals
Towards the end of your college career, it’s very common that you will be feeling a bit of burn-out with the major you’ve chosen or the work you’ve been doing. If you don’t have a job lined up upon graduation, it’s okay to give yourself some breathing room and space from your work. This will probably be the last time you are on indefinite vacation for a while, so enjoy it!
While you are starting to apply to jobs, you may be feeling so desperate to get any job that you find you are applying to some things that are related to your major, but plenty of things that aren’t. This is a good opportunity to ask yourself some questions:
- What is causing you to feel a bit of burn-out with your major of choice? Do you feel like you should have followed a different path towards a dream career? Or do you feel like maybe your field isn’t what you thought it was going to be?
- What are your long-term goals? Are they the same goals you had when you started school? Do these goals keep you feeling motivated to get out into the world and find work you love? Or do you think your professional goals might need a bit of adjustment?
- How will you find job happiness in the jobs you are interviewing for? How will they factor into your long-term career goals? Is their growth potential in these jobs?
- Is there a career path you’ve always dreamed of following, but never did because it didn’t seem practical? Is there any way that you can factor your dream job into the path you are currently taking? For example, if you majored in graphic design but you really wanted to be a painter, can you make time every day to develop your painting skills? Can you take classes and find opportunities to mesh your paycheck job with your dream job?
- Talk with others. See if you can reach out to friends of friends who have gone into the career you think you would like. See if the reality of that career fits your expectations. Find out what the real up- and down-sides of that career path are. Ask for recommendations on how to break into the business.
If you’re finding it difficult to really get a grasp on what you want from your professional life, you should consider using a career counselor of some sort. Telling a professional about your long-term career goals can help you immensely; they can also help you with your resume and cover letter.
Get Ready to Manage a Household
Whether you’re on your own now, you’re living with roommates, you’ve moved in with your significant other, or you’ve got to move back in with the parents for a little while, it’s time to start figuring out how to take all the steps to successfully manage your household. Here are a few ideas to consider when planning ahead (especially if you’ve got some time to kill during the weeks and months you are applying for jobs!):
- Set a budget and prepare to manage your finances. In the coming years, you’ll have to start paying bills and paying for all kinds of insurance. It’s important to not ignore these things, as they won’t just go away if you act like you don’t need to deal with them. Start figuring out what you need to know about paying your taxes in the coming year. Will your parents continue to claim you as a dependent until you are out on your own? Will you have taxes to file in more than one state? What will your status be? Which forms will you need? Rather than leaving all of this until the last minute, start reading up now. Consider consulting a professional at communitytax.com for more help.
- Figure out how to cook! If you haven’t figured out a few solid recipes and basics of cooking, do that now. Don’t let yourself become one of those people who gains a lot of weight because they end up relying on fast food for their first few years of working life. Cooking for yourself is not only healthier, but will save you a ton of money every month.
- Brush up on the basics of home and car repair. Get yourself a good toolkit and learn how to change a tire, fix a fuse, tighten a pipe, etc. Even if you feel as though you don’t have much use for these tips for a long time, now is a good time to learn them when you aren’t working a regular job yet.
If you’re more scared now than you were when you started reading this article, just keep in mind that with time, all of these things will eventually fall into place and before you know it, you will have the hang of being independent out in the world. And remember that even if you don’t know yet what you want to do with yourself, just go forward with confidence and trust in yourself. You’re probably more capable and driven than you think. The post-graduate era seems very scary at first, but you’ll find that once you start facing the fears you have about it, you’ll be learning more than you thought possible. Embrace it!
What’s the most important thing you learned after you graduated?