10 Tips for Surviving the Post-College Real World

The importance of networking

In college, your success hung on your ability to study, comprehend course material, and perform well under pressure. While performance is crucial when you get a job, that skill is over shadowed by the need to be able to network in the job field.

Play the job search game as if 99% of your success in finding a job depends on establishing relationships with the right people. Leverage your network of Alumni. Go to industry specific events, workshops, and conferences. Talk to your professors. Get involved in community activism. All of these venues are gold mines of potential connections in the real world.

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Importance of Social Networks

Chances are that your buddy’s off-color joke on your wall, that page you liked about being “drunk and at Taco Bell at 3am”, and those pictures from last week’s pool party will send your resume straight through the paper shredder. Mind your social media image responsibly.

Social media, especially LinkedIn, is the best tool to assist networking efforts. Use these online communities to assist you in relationship building and to build your profile as a valuable member of someone’s network.


Appearance Matters

A liberal college atmosphere often makes the transition into the career field difficult for graduated students. Dress and appearance norms that students became accustomed to at school are looked down upon in office environments.

Whether or not you shaved this morning matters. What shirt you wore to work matters. Even if your workplace has a “casual” dress code, you will be expected to demonstrate a professional appearance at all times.


Experience Trumps Education

Internships, summer jobs, volunteer experience, and other extracurricular experience has much more value on your resume than education. Take every opportunity you can to gain experience relevant to your career.

Out of college, emphasize your experience to employers. Don’t waste too much breath or ink on what you accomplished academically. Strive to find experience that continues to build your skills.


Time Management is Key

Know how to eliminate unimportant taxes on your time and prioritize what is most important. Facebook, ESPN, and Buzzfeed can easily suck multiple half hour segments out of your work day. Responding to unimportant emails, chatting too long with fellow employees, and other time consuming activities should be evaluated for their value to your job. This can be a real drain on your productivity and can negatively impact your image at the company.

Plan your days out. Segment and budget your time to various tasks and projects that you are responsible for. Efficiency is usually valued above many other skills, especially at entry level positions.


Seeking to Move Up

A successful career really is defined by the ability to recognize opportunity and take advantage of it. Always keep an eye out for the next step up inside or outside of the company you currently work for. The expectation that you will move up in your job field can be very healthy.

On the other hand, assumptions that you will be rewarded prematurely with promotions or raises can be obnoxious and negatively impact your image.


Family Time

Many people start families just as they graduate college and start their careers. Your family can be your greatest source of happiness. Don’t make the mistake of making family a lower priority in life. No success can compensate for failure in marriage and parenthood.

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Travel Abroad

The older you get, the less time you have. Don’t wait to go hike Europe, swim the Great Barrier Reef, or explore Angkor Wat until you are older. In addition to amazing sights you can see, you will also have the opportunity to build your resume.

Sell your place, put your stuff in a storage facility like TheStorageCenter.com and take extended tours of other nations in the world. You may be surprised what you find out about the world and yourself.


Seek Wisdom from Experienced People

Behind every success story is a good mentor or advisor that can provide expert advice. You’ll need someone else’s experience to color your own and help you make better choices for the paths that you are on. Make sure you have a good mentor, and strive to one day be a mentor for others.


Live Under Your Means

So many young people get into trouble because they don’t know how to cut their spending cap below what their paycheck is. These spending habits are a highway to debt, poor credit, and even bankruptcy. Find ways to cut expenses and build up savings. Struggle to contribute to savings? Consider your savings account a bill that you are required to pay monthly.

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