What Now? A Guide to Navigating Life After College

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There’s a reason graduations are full of pomp and circumstance. It’s a celebration of your class’s academic achievements. Once your school hands your diploma to you, you might be asking yourself: What now? Here is your guide.

Life after college can fill you with anxiety, dread, adrenaline, or sometimes joy. Some even have the dreaded graduation blues, exacerbated by the so-called quarter-life crisis. However, nothing good will come out of wallowing deep in your sorrows.

So, get off your bed, draw the curtains, and let the light in. Here’s how you can live your life after graduation.

Plan your career

There’s no “go here” sign towards your career. You need to design your career path accordingly. If you think you need more worldly experiences, then you should take a gap year and volunteer. There are many volunteering opportunities if you know where to look.

You can be placed anywhere around the globe, often at the company’s expense. You can also take internships at big companies to learn and enhance your skills. If you’re confident that your resume’s good enough, apply to your dream company. Or if you know you can strike out on your own, start a business.

Manage your finances

Debt can be a huge pain in the neck if left unchecked for the guide. Make sure you have enough money to get through the day and save at the same time. Try the 80-20 budgeting system if you don’t like tracking your expenses. No matter how easy it is to be blinded by your payroll account on a payday, you should never, ever use up all your money. Living paycheck to paycheck isn’t worth the stress, anxiety, and the hassle.

Create backup plans

The guide to success isn’t paved with bad preparations. Be ready for anything and have a backup plan or two. For medical problems, make sure you’re covered by insurance—or at least your company. If you lost money, make sure you have an emergency fund to cover you before the payday comes. Should you apply for a new job, apply to another company just in case. To quote The A-Team’s Hannibal Smith: “I love it when a plan comes together.”

Improve your soft skills

You might have stellar credentials, but sometimes it’s not your grades or hard skills that left a big impression on your employers. Maybe it’s your quick wit and humour; it can be your logical mindset.

Nonetheless, improving your soft skills, such as communication, critical thinking, collaborative, and leadership skills will help you move forward towards your career path. Not only that, these skills are transferable skills; should you change jobs, they come with you.

Make time for yourself

When you go home after a long day’s work, a little self-care won’t hurt you. Grab a beer; watch a film or two. On your day-off, take yourself somewhere nice without hurting your budget. Walk around the park. Go to the gym like you told yourself years ago. Go on a date. Hang out with friends. A good night’s rest and a weekend well-spent refreshes the mind and body.

Life after college isn’t as tough as older people make it to be, but that doesn’t mean you should let your guard down. With the right mindset and a passion for not giving up, you can navigate through the real world easily.

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