Life after college often feels like a jungle, with very few maps or directional signs. If you’re feeling a little lost with your life after college, it’s okay. You’re not alone. In fact, lots of recent graduates feel groundless and anxious about their futures.
The void of direction from your professors can certainly make you feel aimless. They were responsible for bringing out the best of your potential while you were in college. They set high expectations and created challenges for you to stretch up to while building your skills and knowledge. Your growth, your confidence, and your capabilities were born from their guidance, but now, you are on your own.
The question is: Is it possible to continue to grow and develop your potential, without the support system of your university or college? Thankfully, the answer is “yes!” Here is your post-graduation guide to winning at life after college. These tips will ensure you can continue to bring out the best in yourself and excel at the same speed you did in college. And the best part of all? No one is grading your paper.
Tip 1. Network
Networking is essential for finding your dream job, meeting new connections, and setting yourself up for your professional career.
With this in mind, seek out local networking events, ask your friends if they know any connections you should get in touch with, and be proactive about meeting new people.
Not a networking expert? Tim Ferriss’ viral blog, “How to Build a World Class Network in Record Time” is a great place to get some knowledge.
Tip 2. Give Back to Your Community
Whether your life after college graduation looks like aimlessly living back with your parents, or starting right out in the workforce, giving back to your community is a wise way to spend some time.
There are dozens of ways to donate your time to your community.
- Volunteer at a local charity or nonprofit
- Start a mentorship group for school-aged kids
- Partner with a local organization to extend help to needy families/individuals
- Simply pick up trash on the street
Regardless of what you choose to do, giving back will improve your morale, and help you make genuine connections in your area. All things considered, community involvement is as beneficial for you as it is to the cause.
Tip 3. Sharpen Your Interview Skills
If you just graduated, chances are good that you’ll have some upcoming interviews. With this in mind, take the opportunity to sharpen your interview skills now. Here are a few basic areas to improve upon regarding the interview process:
- Dressing properly for the position
- Listening attentively to your interviewer
- Providing meaningful responses
- Composing yourself professionally
- Using appropriate language
- Practicing nonverbal communication
- Asking thoughtful questions
- Follow-up best-practices
Depending on where you live, you may be able to find interview preparation courses at your local job center or career counseling office. Look into it if you need additional help honing your interview skills. In the long run, the time you spend polishing up your interview skills could dramatically improve your candidacy for employment.
Tip 4. Discover What Makes You Happy
Life after college can feel a little confusing, but it’s a great time to work on finding yourself and discovering what makes you happy. If there’s something you’ve always wanted to explore, now is a great time to do it.
If you’ve been curious about a specific pursuit or hobby, take it up now. Not only will you become a happier and more wholehearted person, but you just might gain some skills that can help you on your future job search. Additionally, you can try any of these methods to draw out your passions and desires:
- Attending a workshop or conference
- Coffee with elders
- Reading self-help books
- Joining a Young Professionals meet-up
Tip 5. Job Hunt
One of the most important things you can do during life after college is start looking for that dream job. The time after graduation can feel directionless if you don’t give it purpose. With this in mind, beef up your LinkedIn profile, hit the streets, and start looking for a job you love. It’s also a good idea to clean up your social media presence. Check out our blog for more success after college tips including in-depth steps to optimize your social media outlets.
If it takes some time, don’t be discouraged. Job hunting is a process, and it often takes a few months to find a really promising lead. Remember to keep trying and not sacrifice your “must-haves.”
Tip 6. Save for the Future
Even if you’re not making a ton right now, you should be saving for the future. Decide on a percentage that works for you and tuck that portion of your income away in a separate account. Whatever you do, don’t sacrifice this sliver of savings each month. If you stick to it, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how much you have tucked away when you’re ready to move into the next phase of your life.
Pro-tip: If you are clueless about finances, now is the time to get clued in. Read up on or take a course to help you better understand how to manage your money. Ignorance is NOT bliss when it comes to your bank account. Time and money invested here will pay off in a multitude of ways from your lifestyle to your community impact, and even your relationships.
Tip 7. Upgrade Your Wardrobe
With networking and potential interviews in your near future, the time to prepare your professional presentation is now. With this in mind, upgrade your wardrobe. Don’t be afraid to get a little funky with your pieces, as long as you make your staples professional and timeless.
Need some help upgrading your wardrobe? Consider investing in an outfit delivery service, like Stitch Fix, which allows you to set a preference for professional or work clothing.
Tip 8. Improve Your Lifestyle
Take some time to improve your lifestyle during these lag months: Start by increasing your focus on your well-being in these key areas:
- your fitness routine
- a healthy and sustainable diet
- improved relationships
- spirituality or mental wellness
- learning agility
- adequate sleep
Above all, do whatever it is that makes you feel centered, happy, and whole. Life after college is a great time to rediscover yourself and strengthen yourself as a person.
Tip 9. Practice Public Speaking
There is a reason your professor made you get up in front of the class for presentations and projects. Public speaking is an unavoidable part of any career or personal life for that matter. It can be overwhelming, anxiety-causing and down-right terrifying. However, the more practice you have with it, the better you’ll be a calming your nerves and speaking effectively to others. Here are some ways to get started:
Toastmaster’s Clubs: These networking groups are intended for people just like you who want to start treading the scary waters of public speaking
Teaching your friends: Get together with your buddies and have each member of the group teach the others something new.
E-Courses and Audio Courses: You’ll learn the theories of great public speaking, but make sure to incorporate the “live” practice too.
Tip 10. Be Kind to Yourself
It’s easy to feel a sense of let down after graduation. It’s not uncommon to battle an endless inner monologue with a list of “shoulds:” Here are some things college graduates catch themselves thinking.
- have that new job”
- be making more money”
- be paying off those loans already”
- have taken more relevant courses”
- have been more involved in college groups”
Keep in mind that these thoughts won’t help you meet your goals. Instead, be kind to yourself and gentle with your process. The more you embrace this idea, the more pleasant life after college will be.
Winning at Life After College
It may seem like just yesterday that you were crushing it in college. Yet the days will start blending into months if you don’t take a proactive stance at life after college. By continuing to immerse yourself in new environments and challenges, you will protect your brain from mental atrophy. The world is at your feet in this fresh new time. Remember to stay patient, humble, and open to the pleasures of the ride.