Graduating from college is a huge step! You are almost there and ready to join the ranks of the working world. You put in four years of blood, sweat and tears. You stayed up late, crammed as much as you could before the final exams and you finally get to walk across the stage to receive your degree.
But, wait a minute. Something's wrong. You don't actually have a job lined up yet. Not to worry! I have 3 tips to help you snag your first job and jump-start your career.
How to Land Your First Job after College
Go to Your School Career Center
The first thing you should do is head over to your college's career center. There you will get help tweaking your resume and cover letter. You want to make sure that when opportunities come your way, you're ready. The career center is also connected with local organizations that want you! Businesses contact the career center on a regular basis to offer open positions just for graduating college students.
Call, Email or Meet Your Professors
Using this technique, I landed an interview with a company that I never would have known about. There are companies that specifically ask professors and department heads for top talent. If you were savvy enough to become friends with your professors, or if you were memorable in some other positive way then you should make it a point to contact them for help. Reach out and let them know you are still looking for a position.
Join an Industry-Specific Organization
I used this technique to get an informational interview with someone in my field. When you meet people in your industry and continue to learn about your field, more and more opportunities will become available to you. Make sure you have some personal business cards printed up. Focus on meeting one to three people at each function. Don't feel like you have to meet everyone there. It will make it easier for you to make a meaningful connection and keep in touch.
I Have a Job! How Do I Spend My Paychecks?
Congratulations! You finally landed a job! Before you do a happy dance, there are a few things you need to take care of to make sure you get started on the right financial footing.
OK, maybe you can do the happy dance first.
Take Advantage of Free Retirement Money
The first thing that you want to do is to figure out whether your company has a company-matching program for retirement savings (e.g., 401k). There are typically retirement options where the company will match some percentage of your contributions.
Let's say that the match is dollar-for-dollar for every dollar that you put in up to the first three percent of your salary. In order to claim your free money and take full advantage of this benefit, designate at least three percent of your salary to contribute to your company-sponsored retirement plan.
Start Saving for Emergencies
Think of your retirement contribution as long-term savings that you will not get to use until retirement. You still need some emergency savings. Set a goal to save at least ten percent of your take-home pay. That is a strategy I learned from the book, The Richest Man in Babylon, and it's helped me so much.
That is the simplest way to budget. Start by getting your short and long-term savings set up and then enjoy yourself. Spend some money. You've earned it. It's all about balance.