10 Ways to Prepare Now for a Great Life After College

There are many things you can do during college to build a great foundation for career success and life after graduation. Here are 10 steps to get started!

While college students have the freedom to manage their time a little more loosely, procrastination is a common affliction that affects most students, and sometimes you lose track of your goals. But prioritizing your schoolwork, skills, and knowledge creates a great foundation for your future career and postgrad success. These 10 tips can help you prepare well and plan for life after your college education.

1. Actively look for a job

The more you apply for appropriate job opportunities, the better chance you’ll have to be employed as soon as possible after graduation. Job boards, social media, and network referrals are some of the ways you can find career opportunities. Frustration may build if you’re applying for jobs and you don’t get an interview, especially during a time when so many others are looking for employment. You might want to stop, but the secret is to never give up. Always work to improve your résumé and ensure that you’ve listed relevant skills mentioned in each job post. Tailoring your application to every opportunity you find could make a world of difference to your job search success. 

Related: Job Search Advice for the Coronavirus Crisis 

2. Take on internships

As much as organizations need vibrant and youthful employees, they require people who demonstrate that they have the skills to do the job. Having internships in college will give you hands-on experience and the confidence to handle assignments and deadlines. If you’re an underclassman, you don’t have to wait until you graduate to start building your job experience. Long breaks and periods when you have fewer classes are the perfect time to take on internships.

3. Build your network

Active networking has a lot of benefits for career growth. When you surround yourself withpeople who have the same interests and goals as you, you’ll get new ideas, career support, job referrals, professional advice, and long-lasting personal relationships. Your network can be made up of professors, advisors, friends, family members, coworkers, or new people you interact with every day. Building a good reputation with these people and being a regular contributor in group settings will help you reap the maximum benefits of your network.

Related: How to Use Your College Network to Land a Job 

4. Find a mentor

Every successful professional has someone to look up to as a mentor or role model—someone who inspires them to reach greater heights. A mentor will guide you through your career and entrepreneurial journey by providing you with advice and encouragement and improving your overall life. Remember that a mentor should not do it for material gain; instead, they should be driven by the urge to help others succeed and want to share their success stories with you.

5. Stick to a budget

Even if you’re still in college, you need a way to manage your finances every day. Coming up with a financial plan can be a daunting task, but the trick is figuring out one that works for you by making adjustments until you’re satisfied. By creating and sticking to a budget, you’ll be able to track your income, identify situations where you’re spending the most money, cut the unnecessary spending, and funnel the extra cash into your goals and savings. But remember, a financial plan is not a fixed blueprint—it should be reviewed regularly and updated according to your lifestyle and changing circumstances. 

Related: Budgeting Basics for College Students, Plus Example Spreadsheet 

6. Refine your social media profiles and posts

LinkedIn is afoundation for personal branding. You should build a LinkedIn profile that strongly describes your professional skills and experiences to potential employers. A good account will have a professional profile picture, relevant skills, an eye-catching headline, and relevant highlighted job experiences. While you’re at it, polish your other social media networks too, like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Get rid of things that you wouldn’t want employers to see. It’s normal to have fun, but you need to protect your professional image online.

7. Service your loans

You may have sought financial assistance in the form of student loans to help finance your college costs. Help yourself out with those by boosting your pocket money now with a small business project or part-time job. There’s no secret formula to paying off your loans, but you can make financial sacrifices, stick to your budget, look for side hustles, and stay motivated to enjoy the power of living a debt-free life as soon as possible. Fast loan servicing means that you pay more than the minimum payment required every month, so be sure to factor that into your postgrad budget.

Related: 8 Ways to Pay Off Student Loans Faster and Save Money 

8. Follow your interests

Your interests are the most vital aspects of your career success. Take time to research what you love most and would enjoy doing every day concerning your field of study. While there are numerous factors that will influence you to drift away from your interests and career development, the most valuable thing is never losing focus until you see the results you seek. You should never choose a career based on salary, people’s influence, or prestige, as it may lead to dissatisfaction and job disqualification.

9. Have a clear plan

Failing to plan is planning to fail—it’s that simple. While you’re in college, you should create an outline of the path you wish your career to follow. This plan will help you see how far you progress in achieving your set goals and how far you still have to go. Map out how you’ll acquire job skills, manage class time and free time, and navigate the postgrad job search. This road map will motivate you to work harder and accomplish your life goals within a shorter period.

10. Prepare for your next step

If you’re still in college, preparing well for exams and avoiding last-minute cramming should also be part of your success plan. Schedule study time and make outlines with key points to help you comprehend what you need to pass your exams and ace your courses. For those about to enter the real world, putting your practical skills to use is vital to boosting your employment chances. Get as much hands-on experience as possible, whether it’s through part-time work, internships, or volunteering. And before any job interview, be sure to familiarize yourself well with your résumé, practice common interview questions, and research the hiring company. 

Related: 4 Great Ways to Start Thinking About Your Future Career

If you’re graduating this year and have put off some of these tasks, it’s not too late to get on track. Taking these steps will no doubt lead to a promising future, but it’s also crucial to relax, hang out with friends, and have fun to remedy stress. By finding a good balance between your educational, professional, and social activities, you’ll have the best job search experience and be ready to conquer the real world. Good luck!

Looking for an internship or your first postgrad job? Check out all the advice in our Internships and Careers section.

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