Turning the tassel marks a finish line for millions of college seniors every year, but what comes next will look different for everyone. Though “adulting” sounds intimidating, there’s plenty you can do to make the transition into life after college as seamless as possible. Here, we’ll share eight things you can do to prepare for post-grad success while you’re still in school.
1. Find an Internship Before You Graduate
Though some companies are notorious for sending college students on coffee runs, taking on an internship can give you hands-on experience in the field you’re interested in. If you perform well, you’ll leave with good connections regardless of whether or not you get a full-time offer. Try talking to fellow classmates in your major about their internship experiences, and ask lots of questions — including what a day-to-day breakdown of your responsibilities would look like — during the interview process. And remember, many internships are unpaid and unfeasible for students who need a source of income during school. At the end of the day, having one won’t guarantee that you get your dream role, so do what’s best for your schedule, mental health, and bank account.
2. Clean Up Your Social Media Profiles
In a survey, 93 percent of employers said that they look at a potential candidate’s social media profiles. As you start the job search, go through each of your accounts to make sure they represent you in a positive light. Archive or delete any posts that you don’t feel comfortable having your potential employer see, and consider making your profiles private.
It’s also a great time to create a LinkedIn account if you don’t already have one. Use a clear, professional headshot as your profile picture and list your previous job experiences, leadership roles, extracurricular activities, and academic interests to give employers a well-rounded overview of your qualifications. LinkedIn’s guide to creating a good profile can help you start.
3. Build Strong Relationships With Professors and Classmates
Networking is a crucial skill that is valuable in any career, and with email and social media, it’s never been easier to keep in touch with professors, mentors, and friends after you graduate. But while you’re still on campus, make an effort to visit your professors’ office hours and tell them about your plans for life after college. Get to know your classmates and invite them to coffee between lectures so you can learn as much as possible from their own job hunt or experiences. While attending the occasional networking event isn’t a bad idea, more often than not it’s the “soft,” personal connections you build over time that can lead to promising opportunities.
4. Find Ways to Do What You Love
Not everyone chooses to make their favorite activity their focus of study or potential career. Still, try to find ways to make time for what you love, whether it’s hosting a weekly writers’ group, joining a dance team or getting involved in student government. You’ll learn quickly after college that keeping up with your passions and hobbies can lead to more meaningful friendships and enrich your life outside of your job. Plus, you may eventually find an intersection between your job skills and personal interests that take you on unexpected career paths.
5. Start Your Job Search as Early as Possible
Depending on your field of interest, you’ll want to start looking for jobs as early as the fall of your senior year. Some industries, like consulting and investment banking, are classic early recruiters that start making offers in November, though many industries hire later in the year or even during the summer after graduation. Either way, it’s in your best interest to start ASAP. Applying for jobs can be time-consuming and take weeks or even months to finalize, so if you’re worried about financial stability after you walk the stage, don’t wait until April or May to start the hunt. Create a spreadsheet with potential roles you find on LinkedIn, Indeed or your school’s career fair, and keep organized folders in your Google Drive that contain tailored resumes and cover letters for every position you apply for.
6. Look for Apartments
Housing security is especially important for students who can’t move back in with their families, so if you plan on staying in the same city after college, start looking for apartments at least three to four months before you graduate. Do you have friends you can room with? Do you need to live near reliable public transit? What’s your budget? It’s easier to answer these questions when you have a job and salary lined up, but getting everything in order can take a lot of the hassle out of moving out.
7. Polish Your Resume and Interviewing Skills
Nothing screams “recent grad” like an unpolished resume or lackluster interview skills. Don’t worry — these things take practice to perfect. While you’re a student, visit your career center to get a second pair of eyes on your resume and find resources that can help you craft a cover letter that will win any recruiter’s attention. You can also check out online cheat sheets or videos to give you a good sense of how to structure and format your professional materials. When it comes to interviews, the best way to get better is to practice. Print out a list of the most common job interview questions and take turns practicing with a friend. And don’t worry if you stumble on the spot during an actual job interview — take it as an opportunity to learn. While many recruiters don’t give feedback when you don’t get an offer, it never hurts to ask.
8. Build a Good Credit Score
Your credit score can open up a gateway to apartment approvals, better loans, lower insurance premiums, and much, much more. On the flip side, a bad credit score can throw obstacles your way for your entire adult life. While you’re still in college, start building credit by opening a card and paying off the balance in full every month. We get that it’s easier said than done and having a credit card comes with its own set of risks if you’re irresponsible with money. If this is the case, feel free to try one of these ways to build credit without a credit card.