Advice to Those Entering the Real World from College

17 Feb

Here you are.  Congrats! You’ve graduated college, made it into the real world, and are taking your new job by the horns.  Now what? What else do you need to do in the rest of your twenties? Everyone at this point is thinking about paying off college loans or considering grad school.  From my own perspective and personal experience, I will advise the following:

You’ve got a job? Stick with it.  Right now, you’re green and you will be this way for a while.  I don’t care what college teaches you, the real world will take you to school in a whole different way.  This first job will be a huge learning experience.  It will thrill you, excite you, challenge you, stress you out and probably make you mad.  Whatever it makes you feel, it is important to stay with it as long as possible i.e. 2-3 years+.  Everyone in their twenties goes through a few jobs. This is not news.  However, later on, the longevity will be crucial. Why? Let me tell you.  Job history- if a company is looking at your resumé, they don’t want to see someone that changes jobs every six months.  What does that say about you? They are thinking about all the time and money they will have to spend training and grooming you for a job and if they want to do the same thing over again a few months down the road.

Another reason: loan approval.  You are probably going to buy a house at some point.  In case you don’t have 200K sitting around, you’ll have to get it from a bank.  All they want is to know that you can pay them every month.

Speaking of money, it is important to save it at this point.  “How am I going to save money when I’m barely making any?” It’s tough, but trust me- it’s crucial.  Over the next ten years, there will be occasions that you will need larger amounts of cash.  Think about the loan approval I just mentioned.  You’ll have to have a down payment, whether for a car or property and it will need to be in the thousands.  What if something happens to the car you have now? You’ll need to cover the insurance deductible.  Another thing to consider is your job.  What if something happens (i.e. economy, downsizing, injury)? How will you support yourself? You should keep enough money to sustain yourself for six months while you are out of work. 

One more thing you might want to save for is much more appealing than an insurance deductible- travels! These years in your twenties are a prime opportunity to get out and see the world. Traveling allows you to have so much fun, learn an unbelievable amount, and make memories that you will have forever.  Whether you go by plane, car, train, or foot, get out there and see what there is to see. Opportunities could abound on a trip.  You never know who will meet or what you’ll see.  Take advantage while you can.  It will be easier to travel now before you get settled in life with a family. 

While you are working on all this, I will add a final thought.  Have fun and love what you are doing.  If you don’t, change it.  Make the most of these years and you will have rewards. 

Post Script. These points are based strictly on my experience in life.  As I look back, I, of course, see things that I could have done differently.  That is what life is all about.  We learn and we modify.  While there are plenty of other things to do in your twenties, I will start with the aforementioned and revisit and add later.


Posted by on February 17, 2011 in Life


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3 responses to “Advice to Those Entering the Real World from College

  1. Joshua S. Hearn

    February 21, 2011 at 3:53 pm

    Great advice. I think universities should focus a little more effort in preparing their students on how to advance in their lives once they leave school. The education is great but a few more courses on the realities of life outside the institution would help. Maybe I’m incorrect in that the opportunities for such education didn’t exist, I went straight into military service upon completing college, but I find myself now doing a lot of independent research on home buying, retirement plans, and other necessary life building skills.

    • thewritemyers

      February 21, 2011 at 6:41 pm

      I think you are right Josh. I just filled out a questionnaire from JSU that was from my department. The final comment that I made was that I could have used a bit more direction in finding work. There could be a class similar to freshman orientation or college living, but just on the graduating end. It would be so helpful.

  2. Cris

    March 1, 2011 at 3:00 pm

    Totally agree with you. I left a similar comment on my survey upon graduating USF, that there should have been a class for your resume, portfolio, tips for interviews, etc. After you graduate, you realize all you have is a slip of paper that says you “know” something. Once you DO land a job, you learn 1/3 what you were taught was wrong, another 1/3 useless, and the last 1/3 is what you hope lets you keep the job.
    Then the rest of reality hits. All the bills, your student loans… here you thought you’d be making lots of money and be comfortable, and you realize you still have a few years of struggling before you can have a house and a car and the doodads and gadgets that go along.


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