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How to Prepare for Post-Grad Life

Graphic designed by Blossom Onunekwu.
Graphic designed by Blossom Onunekwu.

Once we cross that stage, not everything is as routine as the four years we’ve been here. You may or may not have a job you like. You may or may not have a job period. You might not talk to your friends anymore. You might move to Japan. The unknown for many is scary, and it pushes a lot of people into depression.

Post-grad depression is serious. With the neverending “what are you doing after you graduate?” questions, the ignored follow-up emails, the interviews with no responses and the rejection letters, trying to find a job after you graduate can be a mentally crippling task.

And then, there’s the battle of keeping your high school job at Dairy Queen or McDonald’s and feeling like your education was a waste. Although the unemployment rate for college students in 2018 was 2%, the underemployment rate was 11.1%, according to the Economic Policy Institute.  

The unknown can be scary. But at the same time, it can be energizing. Here’s how to prepare for post-grad life.

1. Start saving like yesterday.

If you’ve been an avid reader of The Cluster, you’ll know it’s not impossible to save money while in college. It’s tricky, with all these cords and caps and gowns that we have to buy and only wear once, but it doesn’t have to be. Besides, we really need to get into the hang of budgeting and making a habit of penny-pinching where we can while we are still in the “comfort” of college. Cook your food, use the gym here on campus, ask an underclassman friend for their dining dollars and save, save, save.

2. Go to Career Services.

I’m assuming that we’ve all been actively applying for jobs in these last three months of school. If not, it’s not too late. But before you begin your search, head over to Career Services. Ask them to look at your resume, help you find what you’re looking for and even see if they can give you a mock interview and provide pointers for you. It’s better to start your job hunting game with a lot of confidence in your capabilities, rather than throwing your resume at every job post and hoping it sticks.

3. Plan a trip.

Don’t have any plans for post-grad? Make some! Another reason you should start saving and budgeting is so that you can allocate more money for fun things like vacations. If you’re worried that you’re not going to find a job and you’re really uncertain and scared of what the future will bring, plan a weekend trip somewhere with your close friends. Go backpacking, go on a road trip, go snorkeling. Just do something new and rewarding because you deserve it.  You spent four years hustling and grinding for that degree. Why not celebrate that?

A road trip might be the cheapest option, but you can also check for flight deals using Google Flight Tracker or Student and keep your eyes on the prices. Don’t forget Groupon for deals on skydiving, skating or other invigorating activities.

4. Get some familial support

Let all your aunts, uncles, relatives and family friends be aware that you’re about to graduate. Yes, do this not only to receive some graduation presents but also to let them know that you’re looking for a job or want to go back to school and would like their support.

And for the love of savings, if you don’t HAVE to move out, don’t. Stay at home for as long as your wits can stand it while you build your career and credit and pay down your debt.

5. Volunteer

Just because your wallet isn’t filled, doesn’t mean your heart can’t be. The charitable act of giving delivers many mental benefits. Volunteer at an organization near you (because of gas money) with a goal and a mission that you can get behind. Be instrumental in the community that invested in you. You never know where the connections you meet through volunteering can go.

6. Find someone you can talk to

It can be a family friend, a counselor, a sister, anyone. Have someone to talk to for the difficult times that may come. Just being able to have someone you can speak to when times get tough makes a world of difference when it comes to bracing the unknown. If you’re looking for more professional help, use Psychology Today’s Find a Therapist Tool to find a mental health professional near you.  

We’re almost at the finish line. New beginnings can be scary and waning on our mental health. But it’s important to be real with ourselves and have our umbrellas already open before the storm hits.

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