Getting on Track After College
The gap between graduating college and landing your first full-time job can be a very confusing time without the proper guidance. Getting on track after college is a very arduous task and it takes some people much longer than others. In this article, I will give you all of the essential tips you’ll need to get on the fast track to successful adulthood:
Landing a Full-Time Job
Applying for jobs during or after college can be a very daunting process. Sometimes you feel underqualified because the job requires a certain level of experience that you obviously don’t have. Other times you don’t feel like your qualifications are aligned with the jobs you’re applying for. Almost always, you feel like your applications aren’t even being read and you start to think that you’re being overlooked. It’s easy to feel discouraged, but the key is to make applying for jobs your full-time job and to keep at it religiously.
There is more to applying for jobs than simply submitting countless applications. There is much more to it than that. The key is to go above and beyond and take actions that other candidates are too lazy to take. This includes but is not limited to showing up to job fairs and meeting recruiters face to face, networking on LinkedIn, improving your resume by getting professional assistance, practicing your interviewing skills, researching the companies you’re applying for, etc.
The average candidate simply submits their application, crosses their fingers and hopes for the best. If by some miracle they land an interview, they almost always go in massively underprepared. This is where you can have an advantage over the rest of the field. The key to landing a full-time job without any connections in a massive pool of other candidates is by going above and beyond.
Up until this point, you’ve most likely had your largest life expenses (such as rent) paid for without having to worry about it. Now that you’ve graduated college, unless you want to live in your parents basement forever, you need to start worrying about paying bills. Having bills isn’t fun and no one likes paying them, however, they are an inevitable part of life that everyone needs to deal with. The key to becoming financially responsible is making sure you have enough money to pay your fixed expenses each month, and having the discipline to save and invest the rest.
I always reiterate that it doesn’t matter how much money you make (although making more money certainly helps), all that matters is how much you save. Making $80,000/year in New York City might sound better than $50,000 in Raleigh, North Carolina, however, I can guarantee that you would be better off making $50,000 in Raleigh due to the lower cost of living.
Taking the time to consider questions like “What is the cost of living relative to my salary?” is exactly what you need to be doing if you want to become financially responsible and ultimately wealthy. In the book “The Automatic Millionaire”, David Bach teaches us how to automate all of our finances in order to automatically become rich. For example, if you automate your bill payments and retirement contributions right when you get paid, regardless of what you spend any given month, you are following a solid financial plan and will be saving no matter what. This is the key to financial responsibility.
Cost of Living
Cost of living will significantly impact how much money you’re able to save after college. Obviously, if you decide to live at home for a while, you will save a lot of money. I don’t recommend this however, considering you will learn financial responsibility too late if you push off going out on your own. The longer you stay dependent, the less likely you’ll ever become successfully independent. Saving up some money before you move out is a solid plan, but the sooner you get out the better.
Living on your own will teach you that life isn’t cheap and that you need to work hard to keep your head above water while simultaneously building a nest egg for the future. Barely surviving paycheck to paycheck is no way to live, so it is important to pick a place to live that you can afford. The key to building long-term sustainable wealth is spending the bare minimum on living expenses and investing the rest in assets that can create positive cash flows for you. In your early 20’s you’ll want to keep your bills as low as possible because it’s only going to be harder to save when you have a family and therefore more expenses.
It’s also important to closely monitor your spending. For example, when I first started my full-time job out of college I ate out every day for lunch and spent about $10 on average per day. Now, I spend about that much for the entire week by packing my lunch and I also track my daily spending in a physical journal. I used to never know where my money went, and now I’m completely on top of it and can track my spending patterns from month-to-month and stick to a strict budget.
The key here is to make sure to stay on top of your personal finances and to keep your expenses at a bare minimum. The more you can save, the more you can invest, and the more you can invest, the more income generating assets you’ll be able to add to your nest egg.
Putting it All Together
The key to getting on track after college is to take all of the advice above and apply it consistently. This includes landing a full-time job that pays well, learning personal finance skills, becoming financially responsible and keeping your cost of living down so you can save and invest as much as possible while you’re young.
Many people get on the wrong track after college by taking on credit card debt and living above their means or by living at home too long and delaying learning these essential life skills. My best advice is to read as many books as possible on personal finance, investing and self-development. These are skills you need to be brushing up on perpetually every single day.
In conclusion, the best way to become an independent, successful young adult is to work hard on developing an income source (ideally multiple via a full-time job and/or as an entrepreneur), becoming financially responsible, keeping your expenses down as much as possible and wisely saving/investing what’s left over.