Graduating college is notoriously a time of change and excitement. However, with the current international climate and things seemingly changing by the hour, planning for life after graduation can lead to uncertainty now more than ever.
As a student in the class of 2020, you are facing different (and very unexpected) challenges than past graduates. While the future may seem up in the air, there are still things that will not change once you graduate, so here are some tips and considerations to help you navigate this uncertain time.
Find Ways to Celebrate
For many universities, the future of commencement is up in the air. There is also a very real chance that graduation will be or has already been canceled or indefinitely postponed. While this is an obvious disappointment after years of hard work, remember to try to find ways to stay positive and accept things that you can and cannot control.
For example, consider postponing your graduation party until a later date instead of canceling it indefinitely. You could even set up a Facetime call with your loved ones so that they have the chance to congratulate you right after you get your diploma. You can order takeout from your favorite restaurant and still have a cake to celebrate all of your accomplishments over the past four years.
Update Your Resume
Take the extra time that you may now have to work on your resume. With the job market being more competitive than ever, it is important to have a clean and concise resume that will stand out among other potential employees.
Now is the time to showcase yourself and all of your accomplishments during your undergraduate career. Remember to add different positions or skills you may have recently acquired and to update your education section to highlight your graduation date and GPA (but only if your GPA is over a 3.0).
Here are some additional tips that will help get your resume to the top of the pile and ultimately land you a job:
- Keep your resume to one page
- Put your most recent experiences first
- Use keywords from the job description in your resume
- Stick to a concise format (i.e. if you have one section bulleted, make sure the rest are bulleted as well)
- Make sure you proofread multiple times and then have a family member or friend look it over as well
Prepare Your Finances
Future financial planning and preparation are essential now more than ever, so it is important to have a plan in place for how you will save for the future and protect yourself and your assets while also tackling any current debts.
Consider checking off the following post-grad financial tasks:
Open a savings account
While you may have already had a job before graduating, this could be the first time you are receiving a paycheck from a full-time job. Get in the habit of dedicating funds from your paycheck to save for a rainy day.
This will be especially beneficial once you live on your own and start accruing more debt to your name such as rent, car payments, and utility bills. Experts suggest you save about 20% of your income and have a three to six-month reserve built up in case of an emergency.
Apply for life insurance
While securing a life insurance policy may not be at the top of your to-do list right after graduation, it is important to consider your assets and debts to decide whether or not you could benefit from purchasing life insurance once you graduate.
Did you know that if you took out a private loan for your education and a family member cosigned on the loan for you, they are responsible for paying back this debt if something were to happen to you?
Either way, this — plus the fact that purchasing life insurance earlier in life locks in a lower monthly premium — are great reasons to consider getting a policy after graduation.
Examine company benefits
When looking for your first job after college, remember to consider the benefits package that the company offers. Sometimes it might be worth taking a little bit less of a salary if the company offers great benefits and culture.
It may seem obvious, but remember to take advantage of corporate benefits, such as smaller perks like free gym memberships and on a larger scale, 401K matches.
Plan for student loan payments
Depending on how you paid for your college education, student loans are most likely the biggest debt you have right now. It is important to make a plan for how you will tackle paying down these loans earlier rather than later. Doing so will alleviate some of the overarching financial stress you may have about monthly payments.
For example, consider making additional payments on the balance or even look into refinancing if you have a high-interest rate.
Get a Grasp on Remote Work
With state and federal recommendations and regulations keeping non-essential workers at home, it is a very real possibility that your first job could be remote.
Even if it’s temporary, working remotely might take some getting used to—especially for larger companies. If you embrace the shift and take advantage of the resources available to you, you can have great success working from the comfort of your home.
One way to do this is by leaning on your leadership team. Even if it’s your first day, now is not the time to hold back on asking questions. Lean on leaders in your organization to help with challenges or reservations you have about working from home. These people should understand that it will take time for everyone to feel comfortable with the shift, so it’s important to ask questions along the way so you stay on pace with your team and feel confident in your remote role.
Interview with Confidence
Many companies practicing social distancing by working from home have adopted new ways to recruit potential employees—like moving to online job interviews. Luckily, today’s technology makes video interviewing a breeze.
However, if you’re a bit camera-shy, even just the thought of walking through your resume via video might be enough to put your job search on hold. But rest assured, there are plenty of ways to nail a remote interview with confidence, including the following tips:
- Dress to impress: The best way to get comfortable with the idea of a video interview is to treat it like an in-person interview. That means you should still invest in a suit or other proper attire to look and feel your best on camera.
- Get tech-savvy: Embrace the technology the company plans on using by testing it out in advance. The last thing you want happening right before or during the interview is struggling to figure out the audio and video connection.
- Avoid distractions: Given current circumstances, you might be confined to your house, but it’s still important to remove all distractions and clutter so you can focus during the interview. Create a nook somewhere in your home (preferably a quiet place) where you feel comfortable and won’t be interrupted.
- Be human: Remember, at the end of the day, the people on the other side of the screen are human too. Be yourself and trust in your talents that got you the video interview in the first place!
Maintain Your Network
Keep in contact with professors and friends post graduation. Networking is essential in searching for a job you love; especially when it comes to connecting with people that can speak to your character and unique set of skills. You never know, maintaining those positive relationships might lead to potential job opportunities or you might learn about events going on that could enhance your current skills.
Another benefit that stems from networking is that, oftentimes, these relationships turn into long-term friendships or mentorships, which can help you in both your personal and professional life. You can lean on these comfortable connections to practice for upcoming interviews by answering mock questions or conducting an informational interview to gain insight into their working world and what made them successful.
A Final Note
Remember that even though it seems difficult to plan for the future during this uncertain time, there are still going to be opportunities for you to break into the job market and pursue your post-graduate plans.
Celebrate yourself and all of your efforts that have gotten you to this point and remember that this too shall pass!