Tips for a Smooth Transition from Undergrad to the Working World

The years spent as an undergrad are unlike any other in your life. The mix of freedoms, and responsibilities, having money yet also being broke, and living your best life but needing to focus on the future is a mixed bag of circumstances. Navigating this period can be overwhelming both at the beginning as well as the end. The thrust into the unfamiliar that many students experience as freshman is like what graduates report experiencing upon entering the workforce. Using what you learned about this transition as a freshman to attempt to smooth the transition post-graduation can be the difference between manageability and chaos.

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Pay Attention to Your Finances

For many students, loans are the main way that they fund their education. Additionally, these loans are acquired before your first year, then placed on the back burner until after you graduate. Having the financial burden of college out of sight and out of mind has its advantages but not paying attention to what these loans mean for your financial future would be a mistake.

You can take out student loans from a private lender to pay for college with terms that include deferred payments until after graduation. This is helpful because it can reduce financial worries when your main concern needs to be your education. However, as you approach graduation use tools like student debt repayment calculators to get an idea of what to expect once your grace period ends. Managing your own financial expectations before they become necessary gives you a better chance for avoiding sticker shock once that first bill comes in the mail.

Regardless of if you had a budget in college or not, once you graduate and even more so once you land your first job, creating and sticking to a budget that includes new line items from this phase of life is essential. If you had little to no income or spending money as a student, your first real-world salary can feel like an opportunity to spend in ways you previously could not. While there is nothing wrong with treating yourself on occasion and enjoying the fruits of your labor, spending within your means during this phase of life is the best chance you have to develop a healthy relationship with money long term.

Practice Adulting

Your time as a student is a great opportunity to practice the skills that you will need after graduation with minimal risk. Your professors and advisors are great resources for you to take advantage of now to make the next phase easier. These allies can help you with everything you need to be prepared for, from prepping for job interviews, to negotiating salaries, to researching corporate culture. The idea of sitting in front of your professor, or a peer, and engaging in a mock job interview might seem awkward but having the opportunity to get that awkwardness out of your system before it could cost you your dream job is a gift.

Expect Change

In general, change can be one of the most difficult things to accept and embrace, and the changes that accompany this transition are no exception. In college, you and your peers are essentially moving through time as one unit. Most everyone is at the same pace and hitting all the same marks. After graduation you should expect that to change. Some go right into the workforce, others pursue a higher level of education, some move home, some move away, some do not graduate within the anticipated window, anything could happen.

Allowing yourself to hinge your progress on the pace and plan of your peers is going to hinder your ability to be adaptable to change and work towards your own personal goals. You should also expect social changes during this time. Once you, and/or your peers enter the working world, your need to manage your responsibilities will trump your need to have midnight pizza with your friends on a Tuesday. Post-graduate life does not mean the end of socializing but being able to anticipate the changes in that landscape will help you adjust to a more structured lifestyle than what you are used to.


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