Professional Tips

The Truth About Post-Grad Life (And How to Survive It)

The Fun Parts

The Beginning

The beginning was the best part for me. It was fresh and fun and I finally felt free from college and school in general. My post-grad life experience within the first couple of weeks was bliss. I moved in with my boyfriend, started really job hunting, and relaxed.

The Fun

The most fun parts were really just no longer having to go to class, finally having a degree, and having some true relaxation time. Now, I had a lot of leeway because I was living with my boyfriend and still had money in my bank from working during the school year. I hadn’t gone on any shopping sprees or vacations so I was okay for about a month or two. Plus, my boyfriend wasn’t making me pay rent until I got a job (that was our deal). So again, I had some definite leeway in terms of my money situation and I couldn’t have been more thankful for that.

The Worst Parts

Having to Be a Serious Adult

There are a lot of changes after college. I like to think of it as going from half an adult to a whole adult. In college, I lived without my parents, made my own money, spent my own money, found a job myself, worked, learned how to apply for credit, learned how to pay credit, etc. I learned a lot.

But when you graduate, it’s more intense. I had to find non-student housing, pay larger utility bills (I moved from an apartment to a three-bedroom house in the city), budget my time and money much closer, and make sure I was keeping things together! As true adults, we’re are responsible for everything. There is no calling mom and dad for extra cash. There is no calling a friend for a ride to work or class. There is no late-night Taco Bell run at 2:00 am because there’s a real, eight-hour shift tomorrow morning. Responsibility is key. Now, some adults do call their parents for money, don’t know how to budget their time, don’t know how to pay off their loans or outstanding bills, and they don’t know true interview skills or how to represent themselves to a company which brings me to my next point. . .

The Business World Post-Grad

It. Is. Rough. You will be rejected from jobs even though you are the best candidate just because the person who walked in before you knew the right person. You learn very quickly that it is not necessarily about what you know but who you know.

Applying for jobs can seem like a daunting task — and honestly, that’s because it is. For each application I took seriously I wrote a different resume and cover letter. For the rest, I had a basic resume and cover letter I sent.

Then comes the phone interview, and then the phone interview passes and then the real interview comes and then the thank you email is acknowledged and then — the second interview comes! This is the moment that holds the most hope. The second interview. It means two things. One, you didn’t blow it. Two, you’ve beat out some people.

Then, one of two things happens. You either get the job (or come for another interview), or you deal with the rejection. The rejection is either a nice little email or phone call explaining they didn’t choose you or you get nothing but crickets. The businesses that give you nothing after taking the time to come meet with them aren’t worth much in my opinion. Regardless of the volume of applicants, there should at least be a generic email alerting the person of their fate. If you interviewed at a company and didn’t hear back and you know they hired someone — you didn’t lose the job, they lost you.

Here is a link that will help you prepare for that first post-grad interview.

Keep in mind that things like dress code, shaking hands, good posture, eye contact, a clear voice when speaking, and a happy demeanor go a long way.

If you are rejected after your first post-grad interview, don’t fret. There is a job out there for you and in the meantime don’t be afraid to work jobs “below” you to get that 3-5 years of experience in that every business seems to be looking for. The most common mistake of recent graduates is thinking they’re automatically entitled to that dream job after they are handed their degree. Unfortunately, that is not the case.

Interview Tips

  1. Always dress up. ALWAYS. Even if you know the interviewer will be wearing jeans. Always look nice. Make sure you’re not wearing heavy makeup as some employers do not think this is professional. Step away from the red lips and purple eyeshadow. Another tip is to wear professional, dark colors such as black, brown, navy, and gray. You can dress it up with a touch of color with the tie, shirt, or blouse you wear under the blazer or suit coat. Ladies, always wear close-toed shoes. Think very professional. Think about who you may be meeting with and what they’re expecting from you.
  2. Send a thank-you email within twenty-four hours of interviewing. Even if you’re not interested in the position any longer. This keeps your name fresh in the interviewer’s head and is very courteous. You want to thank them for their time and remind them how interested you are in the position.
  3. Prepare for the phone interview. I personally find phone interviews to be the easiest part because I can pace around wherever I am which helps me keep my mind at ease. If you do better sitting down and just speaking that is fine. But I tend to get nervous and like to walk around a bit.
  4. Research the company. As soon as you apply — or even before you apply — you want to take a look at the company’s website to see exactly what they do. Sometimes the advertisement is misleading and you want to know exactly what you’re getting into. It also helps when you can show off your knowledge of the company during the interview.
  5. Bring at least five copies of your resume on nice paper. You can buy fancy resume paper at Walmart that works just fine. But the goal is to show them that you’re prepared and detail-oriented. The nicer the paper feels the more luxurious of a candidate you can seem. Now, the paper isn’t going to get you hired. But the attention to small details may interest them in keeping you around for that second interview.

(2) Comments

  1. A lot of good tips in this article! I remember my first few months as a post graduate living on my own, definitively a great learning period!

    1. Yes, it definitely is!

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