Advice for College Graduates: Part II

It's graduation time! Here are some more tips for students to prepare for life after college.

In my last post, I discussed three important tips for college graduates. Now it’s time for three more!

Snagging a job

The time has arrived to put your skills to use in the real world. There are a few things to keep in mind when getting ready for an interview.

First, make sure you put some effort into your appearance. Matt Randall, Executive Director of the Center for Professional Excellence at York College of Pennsylvania says, “There’s an unwritten social norm that says when you show up to a job interview, you look your best; and when you do, it puts the interviewer at ease that [you] get it. If you don’t show up looking your best, a red flag goes up. The interviewer starts wondering, ‘what else is wrong with [you] if [you] don’t understand dressing professionally?’” Dressing appropriately for the interview will start you off on a good foot and help you make a good first impression.

Next, do some research on the company. Look at the company’s website, do some online searches, etc.  Put in some time and effort. Make sure you know what the company does, why the company and the position are perfect for you, and—don’t forget—why you are the ideal candidate.

Also, leave your cell phone behind. According to Randall, “Many of us have cell phones and we unconsciously will look at [them] if we’re bored. That sends the nonverbal message that ‘I’m not interested in what you’re saying’ or ‘I’d rather be somewhere else.’ It’s best to not even bring it.”

Finally, be sure to follow up. Send thank you notes to anyone with whom you spoke. Keep them brief and to the point, but don’t be afraid to mention what you liked about the company and why you are a good fit.

Finding an apartment

It can be difficult to think about finding an apartment after you graduate. One way to make this easier is to live off campus during your college career, something that 85%-90% of students at Texas Christian University do during their junior or senior years.

Craig Allen, Director of Housing and Residence Life at TCU, says, “We want to make sure our students know that we aren’t just throwing them out, and that we want to help get them through the transition of finding an apartment. Living off campus for a period of time as a student is giving them some practice for what it’s going to be like after college. It’s a natural part of their development.”

Before looking at apartments, make a checklist of everything you wish to be included in your ideal apartment, understanding that you are most likely going to have to compromise. As you look at each apartment, take all factors into consideration. For example, will a bedroom near a parking garage keep you awake at night? Is there ample closet space?

Also, be sure to read over the lease carefully before signing. Make note of whether or not utilities are included in the monthly rent, if you are allowed to change wall color, etc.

Living by yourself

Going from living in a place where you’re surrounded by friends to a place where you’re alone can be a strange feeling.

“Friends are no longer right down the hall from you so you need to devise strategies for maintaining emotional closeness even when that physical closeness is gone,” says Cynthia Edwards, professor of psychology at Meredith College. “Some of the tools now make it easier. Facebook and cell phones make staying in touch easier but you still have to be active to keep those relationships growing.” Make an effort to stay close with friends and keep in touch on a regular basis. Online video chats can also be great because you are actually able to see each other, and you can give each other virtual tours of your apartments!

Apart from staying in touch with old friends, make sure that you also strive to form new friendships. “There’s no orientation for being a real adult so you have to really seek out those opportunities,” says Edwards. “Religious institutions, interest groups, athletic leagues. Whatever [you’re] interested in, those types of organizations in a new city can give graduates a buffet of new relationships.”

The real world can be an intimidating place, but it can also be incredibly exciting. Life isn’t over after college . . . I promise!

Special thanks to Dick Jones Communications for these tips!


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About Kristen Fackler

Kristen Fackler

Kristen is a May 2011 graduate of Elon University, with a bachelor of science in English and Spanish. While at Elon, Kristen had the opportunity to complete a lot of writing and editing, two areas she has always been passionate about. At the Writing Center, she worked as a consultant with peers and community members to improve their writing skills. She also worked as an editor of Visions, an environmental magazine published by Elon faculty and students. While in college, Kristen was able to spend a semester in Seville, Spain. During the time she was there, Kristen was able to keep a blog in Spanish. She also was published in más+menos* magazine, a bilingual magazine completed by students and faculty members of CIEE Study Center. Kristen has also written for Examiner and is currently writing for Suite101. She enjoys writing as much as possible.

You can circle Kristen on Google+, follow her on Twitter, or subscribe to her CollegeXpress blog.


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