Congratulations, recent college grads! You've worked hard for 4 years and now you're ready to enter the professional workforce. While that idea may seem overwhelming, relax. We have some tips to prepare you for what's ahead:
1. Clean Up Your Social Media Profiles. With the Internet, people no longer just need to represent themselves professionally from 9-5. Now, it's a full-time job. Check that your social media profiles are professional and that your settings only allow friends to view personal content.
2. Remain Open-Minded About Your Career. In college, you were highly focused on a very narrow field of interest—your major. While you may imagine working directly in that field, be willing to explore your options. According to Salary.com, “Only 54% of Americans work in an industry directly related to their college degree.”
3. Network. By and large, most people don't find jobs by sending out hundreds of resumes. Typically, employment comes down to who you know or a personal reference. Take advantage of that by attending networking events in your community that give you the opportunity to socialize with other professionals.
4. Put Your 401K to Work. Once you've gotten your first job, you want to regularly contribute to your 401K—preferably enough to get the maximum employer match. As Robert Farrington, founder of The College Investor website, explains, “The younger you are when you start [contributing], the more powerful compounding interest works for you. By starting at 22 vs. 30, you could add hundreds of thousands of dollars more to your retirement account.”
5. Don't Default on Your Student Loan. When you're faced with paying your rent or making your student loan payment, it can be tempting to ignore those notices from Sallie Mae. However, there are very unpleasant consequences for defaulting on a student loan including: bad credit, wage garnishment, increased debt due to late fees/court costs, and having the government withhold future state and federal tax refunds. If you can't make your payment, contact your lender immediately for help. There are ways to reduce or defer payments until your financial situation improves.