College Success

Seven Tips for Adulting After College

College graduation can be exhilarating, especially for those who already have a job or career path in sight. However, for graduates that are still unsure about what they’d like to pursue, it can be downright terrifying. You may feel less like an accomplished adult and more like a wacky, waving, inflatable tube man being pushed in different directions while trying to figure out how to make car payments, find affordable housing, and not to mention a fulfilling career.  

Regardless of where someone is on their post-college journey, no one has it all figured out, and — spoiler alert — it’s okay. Having a few tricks up your sleeve can help build confidence during the daunting process of establishing a career. So, how can you not only survive, but thrive, while transitioning from college student to truly adulting for the first time? Here are seven tips.

1. Develop your people skills

Even if you’re a world-class introvert, relationship skills are a must-have for everyone. Become known as someone who is positive, proactive, reliable, and kind — and other people will want to work with you. Expand your circle, or find a mentor, and you will expand your world. Be sure to include people who have had different experiences than you and ask them questions about what they do, their interests, and their knowledge. People love to talk about themselves! Soak it up, and you will learn about interesting careers you’ve never even heard of and meet people who could become lifelong colleagues. 

2. Follow your bliss

What lights you up? If you don’t know, make it a top priority to figure this out. Everyone has superpowers that are specific to them. Give this serious thought, even if it leads to an unexpected path. The author, Joseph Campbell, said, “If you follow your bliss, you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. Follow your bliss and don’t be afraid, and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be.” 

3. Build a strong foundation

It’s helpful to think of your career as if you were building a home. You want to choose high-quality, durable “materials” and build on sturdy bedrock to create a strong foundation. To do that, center yourself and do not rush decisions. A career is a marathon, not a sprint. You have to live with your career for a long time so be selective about the building blocks that will result in the “home” you really want.  

4. Have a plan, any plan

Even if you want to take a year off and travel the world, that’s still a plan. Do not wing it! Outline your goals and make intentional choices that will get you closer to your short- or long-term objectives. If you want a family, to get an MBA, or to be a ski bum for a year, all of these will require different strategies. Once you know your plan, make decisions based on whether they will get you where you want to be.  

5. Create (and clean up) your online presence

College is fun, but it’s over. Now is the time to ask yourself if you would stand by everything you’ve posted online. Some recruiters look at a candidate’s social media as part of the hiring process so scan your social media accounts for anything that might be misconstrued or look unprofessional. And it should go without saying: if you are serious about the job search, make sure you have an up-to-date LinkedIn profile 

6. Get a hold of your finances

Start getting into the habit of saving money, even if it’s $50 a month. It may not be the sexiest tip, but it’s an essential habit, and the earlier you start, the more money you will eventually accumulate (Google “compounding interest”). You never know when layoffs will occur so you should always have an emergency fund, too. 

7. Use your resources

A career is not something to do alone. Use the resources available to you and be willing to ask for help — whether that is the career center at your alma mater, Forté and its programs (events, Career Strategist, MBALaunch, MBA Forums), another organization of interest, or a connection with someone who can share wisdom or advice. 

Not sure where to start? Download our checklist and start your journey after college with a plan.


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