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Life After College: Getting Your First Job And More (1204 hits)


Thereís only one thing that beats the excitement of your HBCU college experience Ė and thatís graduation and life after college! But are you ready? There are so many decisions to make, from where to live to where to find the best job. HBCULifestyle can help you make a smooth transition, putting all the information you need in a one-stop online career shop.

Maybe youíve just walked the stage, or are about to. Or perhaps your big day is off a few years, but youíre already thinking about what lies beyond. These are great reasons to think about your career. Every day of the past four years has been building to this moment: graduation. You made it, so take a moment to celebrate!

But once the excitement of graduating fades, you may find yourself wondering: ďNow what?Ē

The question of what to do after college haunts every student to some degree or another. If youíre not sure what that next step looks like, this article is for you.

Below, we examine what to do after college. No matter what you majored in, the ideas in this article will help you plan your next move.

Donít Compare Yourself to Your Peers
If youíre reading this article, youíre probably uncertain about what you want to do after college. During this process of discernment, itís easy to compare yourself to your classmates.

When I graduated, for instance, I had two friends who seemed to have it all figured out. One was going to start medical school just a few months after graduation. The other was planning to enter a Ph.D. program at an Ivy League school.

In comparison, I felt like I was slacking. I knew vaguely what I wanted to do, but I certainly didnít have such prestigious plans lined up.

If you find yourself in a similar situation, itís okay! Donít worry about what your peers are doing. Comparing yourself to them is unhealthy, particularly if you dwell on it. Everyone is on a different path, and itís alright if yours doesnít fit the mold.

Donít Go to Graduate School for the Wrong Reasons
If youíre thinking about going to graduate school, make sure youíre doing it for the right reasons. For instance, some fields such as teaching require a masterís to even get a job. In that case, graduate school is the logical choice.

On the other hand, donít go to graduate school just because youíre unsure about your next step.

You can do plenty of career exploration without spending the time and money to go to graduate school. And of course, donít go to grad school just to delay paying off your student loans.

Remember: You can always attend graduate school later if you decide it makes sense.

Stick to a Routine
You wonít realize how much structure college provides until you leave it. Once you graduate, you may suddenly find yourself with a lot of unstructured free time. Without a proper schedule and routine, these open-ended days can quickly devolve into an unhealthy mess.

To avoid this, I recommend creating (and sticking to) a daily routine. It doesnít have to be super rigid, just enough to keep you busy. Here are some things to include in your daily routine:

- Wake up at a set time (at least on weekdays)
- Eat a healthy meal
- Do something active
- Apply for jobs
- Spend time on a hobby
- Hang out with friends (or make new ones)

Trust me, youíll feel a lot better if you donít spend your days binging on Cheerios and Arrested Development (though that can be fun every once in a while).

Make Finding a Job Your Full-Time Job
You may have heard this advice, but it bears repeating: When you donít have a job, finding a job is your full-time job. And you should treat it accordingly.

I donít think this means you need to spend forty hours per week on your job hunt. But you should schedule time each ďbusiness dayĒ to find and apply for jobs. You can also use this time to update your resume, arrange informational interviews, and perfect your LinkedIn profile.

In general, itís better to submit one high-quality job application per day than several half-hearted ones. The goal is to do something each day that gets you closer to the job you want (or, at least, to something you can do in the meantime).

Move Back Home
I realize that moving back in with your family after you graduate isnít your dream. But in a lot of cases, it can be a smart strategic move.

Assuming your folks will have you, spending a couple of months or even years living at home can help you:

- Save up for a security deposit or moving expenses
- Pay off student debt
- Search for jobs

Of course, you need to set some ground rules to make this work. Establish things such as quiet hours, policies on guests, and whether youíll pay rent. Otherwise, things could get tense and awkward.

And most importantly, set a clear timeline for how long youíll live there. This way, your parents wonít bug you about when you plan to move out.

Move to a New City
While the increasing prevalence of remote work is changing things in some industries, large cities still tend to have more economic opportunities than small towns. So if the job prospects in your home or college town arenít great, consider moving somewhere with more options.

To make this work, you need to plan accordingly. Make sure that your new jobís start date gives you enough time to move. Search for apartments before you arrive. And of course, ask your employer if theyíll help with relocation expenses (which can easily run into the thousands of dollars).

For more detailed advice, check out our comprehensive guide to moving to a new city.

Explore Your Options
If youíre not sure what career you want to pursue, there are a few things you can do to get clarity.

First, consider doing an internship. A paid one is ideal, but even an unpaid one could be worth it if you can get some work experience and professional contacts out of it. This article will help you get started.

As another option, set up informational interviews with professionals in fields that interest you.

Unlike a traditional interview, the goal isnít for you to get a job. Instead, itís a chance for you to ask someone more experienced how they got into their chosen field.

LinkedIn is a great place to find people to meet with. Just be respectful of their time, and donít expect them to offer you a job.

Finally, you can spend time researching careers online. While itís no substitute for on-the-job experience, it can help you figure out what interests you. This, in turn, can inform the internships you apply for or the informational interviews you arrange.

Spend Time Volunteering
If you arenít sure what job you want to do but know you want to make a positive impact, look into a volunteer program. The most common examples (at least in the U.S.) are AmeriCorps and the Peace Corps.

The details of these programs vary greatly depending on where they send you and what they assign you to do. But in general, theyíll cover your basic living expenses and possibly pay you a small stipend. You may also be able to get your student loan payments deferred during this time, though this isnít a guarantee.

Aside from giving you a sense of purpose, volunteer programs can help you figure out what you want to do next. Youíll get to connect with lots of different people, potentially exposing you to career paths you didnít even know existed. You might even decide that non-profit work is your calling.

If nothing else, youíll have an unconventional experience you can put on your resume and discuss in future job interviews.

Live Abroad
My final suggestion for what to do after college is to move to a different country.

Assuming you have a U.S. passport, there are dozens of countries where you can spend months without getting a visa. And if you can get accepted into a government-sponsored program, you may be able to stay for longer.

Itís clichť, but living in another country will give you so much perspective. Perspective on your country, but also perspective on yourself. For instance, my time in MedellŪn, Colombia, was invaluable not only for learning a new language but also for deciding that freelance writing was what I wanted to do.

There are so many ways to live abroad that itís impossible to mention them all here. But these are some solid options to consider:

- Teach English. Many countries have special work visas for native English speakers willing to live and teach abroad.
- Get a remote job. If you can get a job you can do from anywhere, it vastly expands the possible places you can move to.
- Go to graduate school. Itís far from the easiest option, but a student visa can allow you to live in another country for an extended period.
- Volunteer. Programs such as the Peace Corps will give you the chance to live in another country for a couple of years. Just keep in mind that they could send you anywhere.

Note: Before traveling abroad, check the U.S. Department of Stateís website for the most current info on your destination, including travel restrictions and visa requirements.

Proceed with Confidence and Enthusiasm
As you can now see, there are all kinds of things you can do after college. Even if you donít know what you want to do, the ideas on this list will help you find the right path.


You shouldnít wait until after graduation to make career choices. With HBCU Connect thereís no need to. Join HBCU Connect today and unlock a world of job opportunities, recruitment events, and invaluable resources to kickstart your career journey!
Posted By: SofŪa Montiel
Monday, May 22nd 2023 at 11:50AM
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