Set a budget.
You have more time, you may be making more/less money, or you might have less assistance from your guardians. Whatever your financial situation after graduation a budget is always a good idea. The important part is to find a budget that works for you, there are so many different ways to budget and there is definitely one that will work for you. For example, there is the 50/20/30 budget, the cash envelope method, or the zero-based budget. Try out a few different budgets until you find the one that makes you feel most comfortable and is the easiest for you to stick to.
Understand your student loans.
If you made it through college with no student debt, congratulations! You can skip to the next step. However, if you are like the 69% of college students in the U.S. you are probably thinking about the debt you accumulated over the last four years. A budget is an important part of this process, as you have to set aside money in that budget to pay off your debt. How much you need to set aside each month depends on your repayment plan of course. Check out this article from Forbes for “Your Guide to Federal Student Loan Repayment Plans.” Knowing what your debt load is, choosing the right payment plan, and not missing payments are important steps in making sure you pay off your loans as effectively as possible. You can find more common mistakes to avoid on SDState’s Rabbit Food Blog.
Start building credit.
Building credit is an important step of adulthood, especially if you plan to make a big purchase like a car or house in the next 5-10 years. The easiest way to build credit when you have none is to have a credit card. Credit cards can seem intimidating, but when used correctly can do wonders for building credit at a young age. The key to using a credit card responsibly is to understand your credit card’s terms and conditions and never use it in place of money you don’t have. Find more tips like this from adjunct instructor Bruce Johnson on the Rabbit Food blog “Adulting 101 Series: Credit Cards.” If you already have a credit card to some research on how to improve your credit score even more just by using your credit card.
Keep your education going.
Just because your formal education is over, that doesn’t mean you will stop learning. A good worker is constantly learning and improving their skillset. An easy way to do this on your own is to sign up for newsletters about your industry. Keeping up on industry news will allow you to be one step ahead of the competition and keep you informed on what’s ahead. Reading educational or self-help books is also a good way to learn new things as an adult. Learning new things about your hobbies or about yourself is beneficial and can help you grow as an individual.
Set goals for yourself.
Leaving the structure of college classes and deadlines to a much different structure of work life can be a tricky transition. Some people may struggle to feel productive in their personal time. One way to combat this is to set goals for yourself. Whether they are career goals, personal goals, or financial goals no goal is too small. Giving yourself something to work towards and look forward to can help your off the clock life feel just as rewarding as your day job. Be sure to set SMART goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time base to ensure they are effective and achievable.
Don’t stop having fun.
College may be over, but your social life doesn’t have to be. Now that you may be in a different location or have a much different schedule from one another don’t forget to make time for your friends. Having a career doesn’t mean you can’t also have a personal life. The weekends are no longer dedicated to homework, which means even more time for socializing! Having a healthy work/life balance will improve your mental health and ensure your satisfaction with your new lifestyle.
Stay active on LinkedIn.
LinkedIn is a great resource to stay updated on industry news as was mentioned above, but it is also a great way to keep an eye on opportunities. Even if you already have a job staying active on LinkedIn allows you to see when there might be other better opportunities for yourself and others in the future. Not to mention, all those connections that can help you in research, interviews, or future job opportunities.
Say thanks to your professors.
Last but not least, thank those who helped you get where you are. Write your favorite advisors or professors a nice email, or even better, a handwritten note to show your appreciation. Not only will this make their day, but it will keep that door open for communication in the future when you need references or job opportunities. Your professors that you’ve gotten to know throughout your college education are vital connections that should not be taken for granted.
You’re now an South Dakota State University Alum! You should be very proud of yourself and all you have accomplished here at SDSU. As always: Go Big! Go Blue! Go Jacks!