Last Semester? Five Ways You Can Ready Yourself For The Real World After Graduation

It's a whole new year, a brand new set of 365 days for which you've barely had a chance to even make a mistake. The start of this new year is probably the reason you've been reflecting lately. If life could be likened to a house, this is the period of time during which we would most likely tip-toe around it.

You make sure no dust is left, not even under the carpet. You're meticulous about everything. The cynic in you knows, though, that perfection can only last for so long. Eventually, things get a little dirty, a little less organized. The house becomes a mess; your life becomes messy.

That is, if you don't prepare.

That's where New Year's resolutions come in. They're your guide to not screwing up. And if you're a senior in college, you've definitely had more time than most to reflect. Graduation is coming, and right behind it is the real world. The fantasy of campus life is almost over and office life now beckons.

That's certainly not a terrible thing, especially if you've pursued a career in a field you enjoy. But having the right situation to fully experience that enjoyment is no guarantee. So while you enjoy your last, ridiculously long winter break, you might want to resolve to put these things into practice in order to make your post-grad transition as smooth as possible.

Perfect Your Résumé

You're about to enter the big leagues; it's time to compile all your best statistics that you've racked up while in college. At this point, the county championship you won during your junior year of high school does not matter, so don't even think about including it. This is the time you want to trim the fat of your résumé and make it as easy to read as possible for any prospective employer you're trying to impress.

To do so, you might want to label only the experiences and skills you feel are relevant to the position you want. When you list a job, for instance, you might only want to list the highlights that go a long way in establishing your fit for the job, especially if you're struggling to keep your résumé to one page. There are exceptions, of course. If you interned for a big-name company, for example, that might be a nice bit of information to recount and boast about.

The idea, though, is that you tailor your résumé perfectly for the job you want. It also can't be stressed enough that proofreading is a must. How terrible would it be to miss out on a job that fits you like a glove because of a simple, yet costly, error?

Apply, Apply, Apply

It's ideal that you get a job as soon after graduation as possible. What's the downside to starting your job search now? You're on the verge of graduating. Hopefully the physical attainment of your degree is a mere formality at this point, so you're just as good of a prospect now as you will be in June. Besides, a job search now is likely to be less stressful than the summer, when you might have nothing else going on aside from relaxation to take your mind off of not getting a call back.

Take a little time from reading that PowerPoint that you'll have no recollection of in a year and get a job you'll have for the next two or three years, as soon as possible.

Consider Internships

A summer or even fall internship might not be a bad idea to consider, especially if it pays and you're finding it hard to land a full-time gig. Employers are more likely to hire you after having a few months to get to know you than they are after seeing your name printed on a piece of paper, anyway. If you can find a high-end internship, one that gives you actual responsibilities, at a company that can give you that much more experience to add to your degree, you'll be an even more attractive candidate than you are now.

The key, again, is to search early. The longer you wait to start your job search or road to full-time employment, the longer you'll have to wait to earn the good money (which, let's be honest, is really the premier upside of the real world).

About Those Loans...

There's a reason this was left for last. It's the most painful to deal with really. If you've gotten through without having to rely even a little bit on loans, God bless ya'. For everyone else, there's a bit of due diligence that has to be taken care of. Whatever it takes -- a call, a click -- you're going to have to figure out how much you owe, man. Knowing what you have to pay back and the increments in which you can do so adds perspective to your job chase. You might be that more aggressive in negotiating a salary if you know you have a good amount of money to hand back to Sallie Mae. Again, it's painful, but necessary.


By all means, spend time enjoying your last few months of college life. Soak up the fact that you'll have a fully decked-out gym, a laundry room, a fully secure and comfortable living space, dining halls, printing facilities, a library, a health center, career services, counselors, advisors, social gatherings in abundance, free sporting events to attend every week, a post office, restaurants that stay open till late in the morning and 5,000 to 40,000 other people of relatively the same age, all within a five-mile radius for the last time (not trying to make anyone sad here, honest).

Just know that the real world is coming for you soon. Hopefully you're ready.

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