Congratulations, Graduate. Now What? 12 tips for surviving in the real world
The following was written by Peter Gairing, Managing Director at Raymond James and Centre parent of Bronwyn ’14, Clark ’14, and Jillian ’11.
1. Get in the budget habit right away. Develop a plan to guide your spending and saving so that you can have the things you really want and that really matter to you.
2. Don’t move in with your parents unless you have a short-term financial plan that you will follow. Many college graduates return to their parents’ home to save money, but most of them lack the discipline to save. They spend their earnings on cars, entertainment, electronics, and social life. Moving home will work only if you’re sure you won’t fall into that trap.
3. Never buy a new car. You may be tired of driving a clunker in college or having no car at all. However, buying a brand new car is a costly mistake that could keep you on a tight budget for years. Choose a car that’s one to three years old and save a bundle.
4. Educate yourself about personal finance. When you needed to learn about mathematics, you took a math course or read a math textbook. The best way to learn about personal finance basics is to read a good personal finance book or search the internet for valuable advice from financial experts. Two to try: The Savings Solution by Michael B. Rubin and The Wall Street Journal’s Guide to Starting Your Financial Life by Karen Blumenthal.
5. Take advantage of compound interest, the interest earned on reinvested interest in addition to the original amount invested. Watching it grow is exciting. Contribute to your 401K plan at work. Take advantage of stock options as soon as you qualify for them. Start saving the minute you get out of the gate to finish strong.
6. Use your social media pages to market and brand yourself—but remember there is no privacy on the internet. This includes postings by others on your page, and NO red Solo cups, please. Apple has clear rules on social media for its employees: Blogs, wikis, social networks, and other tools are not permitted for communication among employees. Apple’s policy document specifies “the lines between public and private, and personal and professional, are blurred in online social networks.” Don’t forget to Google yourself. You might be surprised to see what has been written about you.
7. Choose your first job carefully. A lower-paying job in your chosen field is likely to be a better deal in the long run than a higher-paying job in a field you have no long-term interest in. Don’t get trapped in a field of work that may not make you happy.
8. Be a self-starter. Be willing to start your job immediately and be that person who is willing to take on additional responsibilities at any time. Do not expect to be compensated for every hour you work. Hard work will set you apart from the others and set you up for advancement.
9. Network, network, network. Always have business cards for planned and unexpected networking opportunities. Vista will print these for free. Use volunteer opportunities or your own ventures such as blogging to help you connect with the field in which you are trying to be employed. While waiting for the job that you really want, volunteer, take a class, or freelance. You want to show employers that you are still engaged in the workforce.
10. Resume key words are important. Customize your resume and cover letter to match the job description or you may not get past the applicant tracking system, which is set up to screen out candidates who do not match keywords listed in the job listing. Be persistent.
11. You get only one life, so go for it. Be willing to take career risks while you are young and don’t have a mortgage or family. Be willing to fail because when it is just you, then you can stand right back up and try again. Be willing to relocate . . . anywhere. If you have a little “attitude” and believe you are pretty darn good at something, try New York City. Whether it is fashion, law, theater, finance, or something else, the people you will meet and the friends you will make might be amazing.
12. If you do something very well, you will be paid very well. My theory is first to succeed in business — then you can open that bed and breakfast in Vermont. At the end of the day it is all about paying your bills and making sure your family is looked after. One of the reasons I chose my career was that it was always interesting and ever changing. It is never repetitive and dull. The more I read and understand about global markets affecting events, the more I realize I do not know. We live in a global community where a government’s or company’s actions affect everyone.