10 Tips for New Graduates

It's been one year since I graduated college. Graduation 2012 collage

It's really hard to fathom how much has changed and how quickly time has passed. A year ago, I was 21, unemployed (career-wise, anyway), three hours away, blog-free, and completely terrified for the future. A year later, I am 22, a full-time teacher and blogger, living on my own three hours away, and still fairly anxious and worried about the future. Things are a lot more complicated than I could have ever predicted, but as my friend Will put it, I'm "evolving" and have one year of life experience behind me that I didn't have before.

If I could give any advice to new graduates it would be this . . .

10 tips for new graduates

  1. You deserve to relish in your successes and your failures. You have made it through some really challenging times and you are equipped to handle the problems that will come your way during this transition. Don't forget to measure your success in more than just your GPA and the number of cords around your neck; count your blessings in memories and friendships. 
  2. Take a risk. Do something you never had the courage to do before. I started a blog. Do something that scares you, but something that you really want to do.
  3. Use your resources to network. You never know when someone will be the key factor in getting a new job or discovering a new opportunity. Talk to friends' parents and employers, created a LinkedIn account, read blogs in your field, pass out business cards to friends and family.
  4. Only apply for jobs you are willing to do. Don't apply for jobs that you aren't willing to relocate for. This is especially important for teachers!
  5. It's okay to buy (some) things. Once you start making some money, don't be afraid to buy bigger items that you would never have the confidence to do so before. Budget and plan accordingly, but don't deprive yourself of something you'd really love or need.
  6. Pay yourself first. Do all of those intimidating, scary financial things that get you ahead. Open a savings account, start a Roth IRA, invest in your company's 401k program, sell old items you no longer want, create a budget tracker, download the Mint app, read Ramit Sethi's book I Will Teach You to Be Rich.
  7. The real world starts now. While this thought can be petrifying, don't give up and don't waste it away. Your "real world" may not be anything like you expected and it may not be nearly as comfortable as your college years, but that doesn't mean it won't be full of fun and memories and life-changing moments. Read The Defining Decade to gain a better perspective of your 20s.
  8. Take the time to thank people who have shaped you. Over the past year, I have learned how precious life is and that it's important to say "Thanks for all you have done for me . . ." (This could lead back to #3!)
  9. Have confidence. I know this is easier said than done, but you've worked hard to get here and you are worthwhile to someone, to a company, to a lifestyle. You are worth knowing. You have so much to offer. Show the world how great you are.
  10. Prepare to learn and grow more than you can possibly realize. The work has just begun. You may think you know everything you need to know, but it's simply not true. This can be either exciting or overwhelming--probably both most of the time. Soak up as much as you can learn and put your pride aside. Experience will teach you what you need to know.

Congratulations to new graduates! You are entering into a scary, exciting, worrisome time of your life. I am proud to have made it through a year of post-graduation life already. I wouldn't ever go through it again, but I know that keeping the list above in mind has made it easier. It's not over yet...