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Tips to Making it in the Real World After College Graduation

Graduation was a blast. No more tests to cram for or research papers to write. The euphoria of finishing college is fresh in the air, and the sky is the limit for what your adult life will become. The immediate future includes packing up the apartment, saying your goodbyes and heading back home. But what comes after?

While your parents have been very helpful with your expenses the last few years, your college loans aren’t going to pay themselves. According to Project on Student Debt, it is estimated that 71% of college graduates have a student loan with an average owed amount of $30,000. With your loans looming and debt rising, there is clearly no time to waste in finding a job and getting on with your life.   

However, before you jump the gun and get yourself locked down in a 9 to 5 job that might not be a good fit, you might want to do some soul-searching to figure out the best career track for you. Perhaps you’re destined for a traditional career path; or just maybe you want to explore your entrepreneurial spirit.  After all, you are a Gen Y’er or as we like to say, a Quarterlifer!

Considered to be the most entrepreneurial generation ever, Gen Y graduates are increasingly following their entrepreneurial pursuits. Jeff Cornwall, director of the Center for Entrepreneurship at Belmont University, says that parents raised Gen Y children to be independent with a desire to take matters into their own hands. In general, Gen Y individuals typically have a distrust of large organizations and don’t have the desire to slowly climb their way up the corporate ladder. Instead, Gen Y is impatient and typically would rather be involved in starting something from the ground up, rather than climbing their way to the top. 

If that sounds like you, then taking an entrepreneurial path might be right for you. Here’s some advice on becoming a successful professional: 
  1. Start young. For those interested in starting their own business and becoming a successful entrepreneur, Ger McNamee, CEO of GongShowgear, suggests that you “start young and take chances.” By taking chances early on, you have less to lose in terms of your career and personal life. Without a mortgage or family to support, young adults have a lot more time to devote to their unique business plan and are typically less likely to worry about failure. If you fail, look at it as a learning experience, then pick yourself back up and get started again.
  2. Create a budget. Besides deciding which career path you are going to take, the first thing you need to do in your post-collegiate career is to create a detailed budget for yourself. As soon as you figure out your income and take inventory of all your critical expenses like rent, car loan, student loan, utilities, healthcare, food, funds for emergencies, etc. After you consider ALL of the essentials, you can add in extras, such as eating out, entertainment, travel, and an amount to put into savings. Don’t foolishly spend money just because you have it in your pocket. Key point: make a detailed budget that works for your life and stick to it. Lucky for you, Delta Community has various online resources to help you budget.
  3. Surround yourself with the right crowd. Remember when your mom used to tell you that hanging out with the wrong crowd will get you in trouble? Well, that’s still true as you begin your professional career. Cody McKibben, Founder of Digital Nomad Academy, says that the people you choose to surround yourself with will either make or break you. You have to admit, it is much easier to stay motivated and work hard when you’re around determined, like-minded people. The bottom line: when you're around ambitious, hard-working people you'll make progress and thrive.  That said, Cody recommends you find a strong support network and/or mentor to challenge your thoughts and keep you from becoming stagnate.
  4. Think ahead: save and invest now. Another important habit to get into as you begin your career is to pay yourself first. No, this doesn’t mean going out and buying a new outfit or taking a trip to the Bahamas. This means putting money into your savings account now so you can reap the benefits of that cash later on in life. In case you haven’t been following the news the past few years, by the time Gen Y retires, the social security system may not be nearly as supportive as it is for today’s retirees. Therefore, it is up to you to start saving for your retirement.
  5. Be hungry and stay hungry. Having just graduated, you should be feeling a great sense of achievement and ambition. Our final word of advice is to never lose your energetic ambition, no matter how many times the real world might knock you down. Being a successful entrepreneur is going to take a lot of blood, sweat and tears on your part, but don’t ever give up. Never lose your hunger to achieve and always strive for greatness. Keep your head up and don’t let rejections destroy you. YOU are a part of Gen Y, the largest generation of the present time. The time is now for Gen Y to use its power and influence to change the future—how it changes is up to you and your fellow Gen Y’ers.

Whether you're interested in starting your own business or just need simple budget help, we are here for you! Visit one of our local branches to talk to one of our financial experts today.