So you've graduated from college or are about to? Awesome. After all of the celebrating and diploma-gazing is over, though, you'll need to get on with life. Often, the big changes that come after college are a bit overwhelming and missing a few things is easy to do.
Here's a checklist of eight things you should do after graduation to keep your life on track without losing track.
Clean Out Your Social Media
The best way to have done this was to keep a good social media presence before and during college, but not everyone was that astute. The drunken moments, down-times when you just had to vent and Facebook was more accessible than your BFF, etc. all happen. Now's the time to start culling those things from your profiles. Go through ALL of your timeline, back posts, etc., not just relatively recent ones. Look at your comments, posts and more and get rid of anything that is unprofessional or that doesn't speak of your being an adult.
For many grads today, this can be an extremely daunting task, but employers are using social media searches and Google to check backgrounds more and more often these days. Forget about getting a security clearance or anything resembling public relations work if you have a social profile that marks you as hot-headed or spur of the moment.
Speaking of Google, when was the last time you Googled yourself? What do other people see when they search your name? Don't search from your own system, since the results are clouded by your browsing history and logins. Instead, use a computer at the public library or similar. You might be surprised at what you find.
If it's not good, work towards fixing it. Set up a Google Plus profile, if you haven't, and start cleaning up the things you're seeing that you don't like. Un-tag yourself from friend's media or even unfriend them if they're full of commentary that includes you and isn't putting you in the best light. You could even start a blog in your field of study and begin targeting keywords associated with your name.
Make Your Online Presence Job-Oriented
All of this is about getting a professional online presence. Your personal presence is great and if you use a lot of privacy settings and due diligence, you can maintain your personal profile as you wish, but chances are, eventually, something will leak. Moving on from college means leaving behind childishness and the spontaneous life that might have been led before you graduated and went on to adulthood. This might mean severing a few ties or shutting down some things in order to clean up your act. If this means losing some friends or changing contact points, talk with them and if they're real friends, they'll understand why you can't be associated with their frat party presence online.
Don't Just "Look for a Job"
Spending all of your time looking for work is probably your primary goal at this point, but don't do it. Instead, look for work in your new field diligently, but keep practicing in your field as well. Intern somewhere, take some classes to expand your horizons, find new network contacts, etc. When the employer inevitably asks you "what you have you been doing since graduation," be ready to answer with a bullet list of proactive things instead of just "looking for a job." This not only shows your dedication to work, but also initiative. That puts you ahead of most of the other applicants.
Pay On Time, Start Saving Now
Your finances should be in order or getting that way fast. If this means moving in with your parents to save a few bucks or sharing an apartment with roommates so you can keep expenses low, then that's how it is. Even if you aren't working in your field (yet), you should be able to keep up with your bills and be saving some money. Once you land your new job, remember that saving a set percentage of your income (you decide what that is, but it should be something) is your primary financial goal. If this means waiting a couple of months or a year before you get better digs or a nicer car, then so be it. Be goal oriented, not stuff oriented.
Buy a New Car LAST
Speaking of stuff, don't buy a new car until everything else is in absolute tip-top shape financially. Then buy or lease UNDER your pay grade, not at or above it. If you make enough to afford an entry-level luxury car, say a BMW 2-series, buy a Hyundai or Chevrolet instead. Buy less than you can afford and you'll come out ahead every time.
Prepare to Succeed
All of this is boiling down to being ready to succeed. Preparations go beyond having the right suit, knowing the right people, and having the right education. It's a mindset. Have goals and work to achieve them. That's success.
Keep Up the Fun
But don't be so task-oriented and goal-focused that you lose sight of the good times. Visit family, hang out with friends, travel if you can.. do all of the fun stuff that you can do without interfering with your goals. This is probably the best time of your life and you'll find out that it's way better than college.