Congratulations! Graduating college is both an exciting accomplishment and a thrilling time for students.
Along with the excitement of finishing college and setting out on your own, you probably have several questions about what to do next. For example, how do you go about getting a job, an apartment or choosing a retirement plan? At South State Bank, we understand how overwhelming it can all be. To help, we’ve put together some tips about how to successfully approach the next chapter of your life.
Decide what’s next:
- Is graduate school for you? Graduate school can be a logical step for some professions. If you’re on the fence, weigh the pros and cons for your career. If a master’s degree is a necessity for a higher salary, career advancement and other benefits, starting the process of researching, applying and financing is a good idea. If a higher-level degree doesn’t advance your career, then working for several years before returning to school is a good option. After working in a particular field, a master’s degree is also a good way to change directions or you might have an employer who will contribute to tuition.
- Internships after you graduate can still be a good idea. The job market can be tough. If finding a job isn’t working out, accepting an internship is a good way to gain experience and get your foot in the door. You also have the freedom to accept a position, if the internship should lead to something full time.
- Staying local or relocate? The decision to stay close to home or to relocate can often be decided by the job market. If your goal is to be in an industry specific to a certain city or region, then making the decision to move might not be difficult. However, if you want to move for a new adventure and you can’t find a job, try contacting a temp agency for direction. Agencies are a great way to network in a new city and can often lead to a full-time position.
Tips for getting a job:
- Have your resume ready to go. You never know when you’ll meet someone with interesting contacts, so having an updated resume to send is imperative.
- Clean up your social media profile. Using LinkedIn as a professional social channel is a great way to have a presence online and show more about extracurricular activities, like volunteer work, that aren’t on your resume.
- Learn the art of networking. Whether it’s online or offline, join professional networking groups to help you get connected in your community. Plus, there are often opportunities for you to participate in workshops and events to enhance your professional skills.
- Stay in touch with professors and college friends. Getting a job today is a lot about who you know. The farther your contacts stretch, the better the chance of you being mentioned or introduced.
- Research the company before you interview. When you get an interview, come prepared with questions about the company, the department you could be working for and your potential position. This will show your potential manager you are serious about the job and help you get to know your potential workplace.
- Practice interview questions. Research common interview questions asked to help you prepare for your interview. You can also ask friends and family members to give you sample interview questions they’ve encountered so you can practice your responses.
Tips for starting a healthy financial life:
- Live within your means. Once you start getting a paycheck, it’s important to understand how much money you have and where it is going. Use our Budget Planning worksheet to help you get started.
- Establish credit. Eventually you will be ready to buy a house, a car or apply for a loan. Having a healthy credit score is essential so start now with a credit card and keep the balance paid off to begin building credit.
- Start saving money from every paycheck. Setting up automatic transfers from each paycheck will help keep you on track. Money that you see in your checking account is more likely to get spent.
- Take advantage of your employer’s 401(k) program. Think of this as tax-free income that goes directly to a savings account. If possible, contribute the maximum percentage that your employer will match. Allowing that money to grow overtime will set you on your way to a good retirement nest egg. Make an appointment with the benefits coordinator to go over your options. They’re there to help.
- Start a relationship with a banker. Everyone has questions and concerns when they begin the process of starting out after college. Starting a relationship with a banker ensures you have the right information to make decisions that will impact your future.
Tips for finding a place to live:
- Do your research. Having a good understanding of rent prices, utilities and other living expenses in your desired area can help with your search. Also, be sure to research the neighborhood.
- Know your deal breakers. Finding apartment place to live on a budget means you will have to compromise on your idea of the ideal apartment. If you don’t cook, then having a smaller kitchen might not be a big deal. But having an office space is necessary because you work from home so that could be the deal breaker.
- Take the time to read the lease. You have rights as a renter, but the management company or owner does too. Thoroughly reading the lease ensures you know what is expected of you as a renter and what the manager intends to deliver to you. If anything seems out of place, have a conversation with the management company to see if changes can be made.
For more information, visit the Graduating section of our Advice Center.