he thought of life after college graduation can be daunting, but if you are prepared, you do not have much to worry about. Knowing how to function as an adult and how to make a plan is something everyone should know before they start their senior year, so that you can fully focus on your studies and finishing your degree. Taking things slow and making sure that you don’t force yourself to rush into things is a big part of the journey as well, and it will make your memories sweeter when you look back on them.

Sticky notes on a cork board, one reads "Impact full".
Having a plan for yourself before things get busy is a good way to help keep the stress levels down in the heat of the moment.

Creating a Plan

Creating a plan is the first step in preparing for life post-grad. This part alone can be overwhelming sometimes, especially if you are still a ways away from graduation. But, starting your plan now can keep your stress levels down and your head up as post-grad life quickly approaches. Following a step by step plan will encourage you to stay focused and positive. We have included just a few of the things that we know work well, but everyone’s journey is different, so your steps may look different as well!

Keep your options open

Giving yourself multiple paths to choose from when thinking about the future is a great way to stay positive and make yourself feel as though you are on track, no matter what. Whether you want to jump right into a job, go back to school for a graduate degree, travel, start a business, or just take a break (because trust me, after four years of college, you deserve one), you can put all of these things as different paths of your plan if you choose to do so.

The same goes for choosing a new city if you are not wanting to stay where you are now. Start looking at all of the cities you want to work in, go back to school in, or travel to. Remember that sometimes, our plan A doesn't always go as planned. Your plan B or C may end up being your dream come true– if you plan ahead for it. Life is all about choosing your own path, even if unexpected things are thrown at you. 

Don’t be worried if things don’t go to plan right away after college. This is a period of growth and new experiences for everyone in your shoes, so you cannot compare your experiences to anyone else's. You have to keep your options open in this regard too. Try to be flexible and kind to yourself if and when things don’t work out. Everyone has things that set them back a few steps in life.  

Apartment with a blue couch
Looking for your apartment ahead of time and having options in each city you are interested in is a great way to relieve future stress.

Look for an apartment ahead of time

You do not want to be stressed and scrambling to find an apartment a month prior to moving to a brand new city. Look at apartments online in every city you are interested in so that when the time comes to choose the city that will be your new home, you have a few different options to choose from and already know the lay of the land. 

Some things you also may want to think about is what kind of apartment fits your needs. Are you planning on living alone, or with other people? Do you already have friends in that city? If not, start connecting with people your age on social media that already live there, and ask them for tips on being new to the city. Utilizing the apps Geneva or Bumble BFF could be a great way to start out. 

In addition to finding roommates and friends, are you looking for a furnished apartment or are you bringing furniture with you? If you plan on bringing furniture with you, do you plan on keeping your car in your new city, and where will you park it? These are all great things to think about ahead of time before jumping into the deep end after you graduate. 

Three people look over a resume
Having an up to date resume could be a make-or-break for a job or internship, so have an updated version on hand.

Revisit your resume

No matter what your post-graduation plan ends up being, most options start and end with having a great resume on hand. A good resume can help you land jobs, internships, volunteer opportunities, or spots in a graduate degree program. Make sure that your resume is kept to one page. If you find this difficult, it may be helpful for you to make a Curriculum Vitae as well (a great way to brag about all of your accomplishments without limiting it to one page), where there is more space. 

Many people choose to create different resumes for different situations instead of having one resume for everything. Even having a separate resume for work and school could make a world of difference, and help the reader to hone in on what your talents and strengths really are. Keep them organized in a Google Drive or a folder on your computer so you can label them and be sure not to get them mixed up.

Build your personal brand

Life is all about making and keeping connections. You may have learned this throughout your college career depending on what you are studying, but if not, it’s never too late. LinkedIn and Handshake are just two of the many platforms used for networking and job opportunities all over the world. 

LinkedIn gives you the opportunity to connect with alumni from your college, people who currently work in the field you are interested in, people who work for your dream companies, and much more. There is also a feature to find jobs and internships with LinkedIn.

Handshake is a platform that is being adopted by many different colleges and universities to be used similarly to LinkedIn, but more focused on jobs, internships, and career fairs. Many of the companies seen on Handshake will often be those at which alumni work for. This is a great opportunity to network because you already have something in common with the recruiters. 

Someone looks at social media on their laptop and phone
Having a quick look through your social media before applying to jobs and internships is a great way to ensure that you are seen as a professional.

Clean up your socials

We all know that sometimes in college, our social media platforms can get a bit… messy. If you have a lot of photos of you partying and drinking on your public social media, you may want to consider taking those down and adding them to a memories album to look at on your own time. Spoiler alert– potential employers can and will look at your social media and judge what kind of person you are based on it. It’s great to show your personality, but keeping things on the tame side is always a good bet. 

A good rule of thumb is to take down anything that you would not want your grandmother to see. Even if you have a cool grandma, not everything is for her eyes. So, remember the next time you post videos of you partying, grandma (your potential future boss) could be watching. 

Two men sit at a table talking
Asking for advice from someone who has experienced what you’re going through is always a great way to calm the nerves and prepare for your future.

Ask for advice

Never feel afraid to ask for advice from people who have done this before you. Thousands of people graduate from college each year. It is likely that you know at least one person who has done it, and if not, your college can connect you with alumni that you can speak with to ask them questions about how they dealt with life post-grad. Every college graduate experiences the same type of emotions around the time of graduation– fear, excitement, sadness, relief, happiness. All of these things, and whatever else you might be experiencing, are totally normal. But, you want to be sure that when these emotions come about, you don’t let them get the best of you. 

A girl with blonde hair smiles with a graduation cap on
Graduation is bittersweet– take it all in and appreciate what you have experienced.

You have worked for four years (give or take a few) for this moment. Do not let the stress of the moment take away from your focus on how big this accomplishment is. Make the best of it, take lots of photos, document however much you can, and take it all in. You will likely only experience this same feeling once in your life. Remember to cherish it.

Feb 15, 2023