A college graduate holding out a college diploma tied together by orange ribbon

5 Things I Learned After Graduating College

So, you got the degree. Now what?

Life doesn’t always turn out the way you’d expect. That’s okay because life is a learning process, especially in your 20’s. Consider my following realizations if you are about to graduate or have just graduated. 

#1: Yes, it will be difficult landing your first job.

Not to be blunt, but I will be. It may be hard to get a job right after you graduate. Some people are lucky enough to find one right after or even before graduation—I hope you are one of those people. But you must be persistent if you are having a more challenging time finding the perfect post-grad opportunity. 

It took about 4 months to land a job. Thankfully, I found something within a few months. I was frustrated. I spent a lot of money to get my bachelor’s degree, and it wasn’t working as quickly as I’d liked, so I felt I had wasted my money. The truth is, finding a job will take time and patience

I realized this months after I was into my new career as a publicist a few years back. I always thought finding a marketing job right out of college would be easy. While there may be many jobs in your field, there is also a TON of competition, which is another truth you need to realize. 

So, how do you land your first job out of college? 

  • Apply to any job that interests you/relate to your experience.
  • Prepare a great cover letter. Have a trusted professional in your network (professor/academic advisor/manager) look over your cover letter before you send it.
  • Revamp your resume and have it critiqued. 
  • Practice interviewing with other people and with yourself.
  • Think about questions you’d like to ask the interviewer once you get an interview.
  • Always follow up with an interviewer at least once.
  • Research the company before the interview.

#2: Learn to depend on yourself.

While this could relate to anyone in your life (parents, boyfriend, girlfriend, roommate), it can be especially beneficial for you. When it hits unexpectedly, it hits hard. That’s why I believe young adults must learn about self-dependency. From personal experience, I was in a situation where I was suddenly alone and had to depend on myself. 

When you learn to depend on yourself, you’ll have financial freedom and social independence and lead a happier life overall. 

Self-dependency also makes you an asset to others, whether it be your loved ones or your professional life. This means being self-reliant may lead you to more responsibilities later on. 

#3: Spend more time learning new skills related to your career.

This tip goes back to job hunting: keep yourself up-to-date with current trends in your industry. Not only will it help you in your work, but it will help you stand out from your colleagues. 

Do what you have to do to stand out:

  • Pick up some books on your industry from the library or book store. 
  • Read some of those old college books you could never sell. 
  • Take an online course. 
  • Read some news articles from LinkedIn. 

Doing all these tasks can help you grow professionally, give you a competitive edge, and help you gain more experience. And if we know one thing from corporate jobs, they want you to have experience.

This article from Indeed shares 14 more ways to stay relevant in your field.

A young woman reading a book and peeking over the edge of the book in front of her

#4: Read more books in general.

Reading is a process that works out your brain muscles. Reading more helps stimulate memories, uses your analytical abilities, and can help broaden your imagination. Even studies report that reading more can help slow down or prevent dementia and Alzheimers later in life.

In addition to reading nonfiction books that pertain to your career, read fiction books too. Reading fiction novels is a great way to stay creative and enhance the brain’s ability to keep an open mind while processing information—a skill necessary for effective decision-making. 

Other benefits of reading include vocabulary enhancement, improved focus and concentration, and stress relief. 

#5: Save money where you can.

Saving money is SO important—I cannot stress this enough. Whether you came from a low-income or upper-middle-class family, saving your money will always be a valuable skill. 

Even if you aren’t financially dependent yet, it’s a good idea to start saving early on so you can be more dependent later in life. Once you depend on yourself, you’ll probably be responsible for all your bills. Because if I know one thing, you’ll have to pay for an unexpected car repair when you can least afford it (it happens to me every time). 

Preparing for financial situations like car repairs, home repairs, renters insurance, medical insurance, etc., can help alleviate some of the stress off your shoulders when the time comes.

To start saving money, I suggest using apps like Acorns or Stash to help set aside money each week for you. 

Tally is an excellent app if you have already accumulated credit card debt but want to start paying it off. 

If you want to be an old lady and start couponing (it’s okay to admit to using coupons), use apps like iBotta or Rakuten to find the best rebates and coupon codes. 

Check your local newspaper for coupon/advertiser inserts. Larger cities will send these out usually once or twice a month with a bunch of coupons you can use locally. 

What’s Next?

Thanks for taking the time to read my ramblings about life after college.

Millennials that have already graduated—what did you learn after you graduated from your undergrad? Leave your advice in the comments!

5 Comments

  1. I learned a psychology degree doesn’t really get you anywhere unless you go back to school. I write and do marketing now which is way different than I thought I’d be doing. Gotta just roll with the punches.

  2. Having been there, this is great advice! I appreciate that you’ve indicated that learning doesn’t stop when you graduate.

  3. I remember that it took me 3-4 months to get my first job after graduating from college. It was really challenging and exciting at the same time. I agree with learning new skills and relying on yourself 🙂 Thanks for sharing this x

  4. These are all such great things that you learned after graduating from college. Thanks so much for sharing them!

  5. Awesome advice! We completely agree with you, especially about reading more.

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