This post is dedicated to my fellow juniors who will be graduating soon (in a few months), as well as to anyone out there who have just recently graduated (congratulations, by the way!), who will be graduating soon (woohoo, you’re almost there!) and to anyone who’s probably planning on what they need / want to do after graduating from college / university.
Early disclaimer: Anything written here are purely from my own experiences and thoughts, and I do not guarantee that this is a bullet-proof way of doing things, nor am I saying that you have to follow everything that is written here. Feel free to read through with an open mind and take in whatever that is applicable to you.
First of all, hats off to you (future/recent) graduates! You’ve done it! It’s been a long journey of (2-5+) years, and you’re finally stepping out into the adult working world. Mind you, while it can be a scary thing to leave behind the comforts of a university, to step out of the student-bubble and venture into the vast unknown, there are things that can help you navigate the world, and skills that can help you stand out in the huge crowd.
It’s okay to take some time off before you start working
I feel like in today’s world, people feel rushed to get their first job right out of college. Graduating from a well-known business school in the US, it was especially de-motivating for me when a lot of my classmates were like “Oh, I just got an offer from X and Y, but JKL just called me about an interview next week” BACK IN FREAKING NOVEMBER, which was like SIX FREAKING MONTHS away from graduation.
Yes, sure, it is nice to know what your plans are after graduating, and having a job offer in hand before graduation can make it easy for you, but it does not mean that you have to have that offer in your hands before you actually graduate. Or it does not mean that you have to start working right after you graduate.
So if you feel pressured and stressed out because your friends around you are already starting their first job, and you’re just sitting at home or relaxing, don’t feel too bad. You deserve some time off, after all that time studying so hard. This is especially true for those who studied away from home, be it in a different state or a different country. Take some time to spend with your family and your parents. It’ll be a good bonding time, and hopefully helps you make up for lost time over the past few years.
That being said, that does not mean that you get to sit at home on your a** and do nothing, because you also need to…
Explore opportunities out there
A lot of people say that what you do for your first job will not be what you’ll be doing as a career. People tend to say that “Stop being picky and just work. Just grab whatever opportunities that you have, and get that experience in.”
While I do agree that you need to get some experience to sharpen your skills and give you a taste of the working world, I also believe that you need to get meaningful experience. And this can come in many different ways, and may differ from each other – depending on how you look at it and what you take out of it.
For example, someone who just graduated from medical school and is now awaiting for their housemanship to start. While waiting for the placement and everything, they decide to volunteer at a shelter, or at an elderly home. While it may not be directly related to what they do, they get to learn how to deal with people, how to communicate and react to different groups of people.
But, like I mentioned – these experiences differ between people, and what’s meaningful to you may be different than others. You may choose to work part-time as a cashier or a waiter, and you use that time to learn about customer service, about dealing with difficult parties, about cleanliness and teamwork. All of these are transferable skills that you can use in your future careers, whatever it may be, so learn to see the things that you can learn and use in the future.
Get your personal finance sorted
And what I mean by that is, know how to manage your money money money.
Malaysians are not saving enough, so you need to learn how to start saving from a younger age to live a comfortable life when you’re older. Learn how to manage your expenses and income, and develop your own way of tracking your personal finance.
Personally, I use an app (Income OK), to track my daily expenses, and at the end of the month, I’ll consolidate them into my master Personal Finance spreadsheet, so I can compare my earnings and spendings over the past few months.
While I wouldn’t touch much about this for now (you can read Fresh Grad 101: Personal Finance), I can say that this is an important thing to get right at the start of your career, so that you wouldn’t have too much financial problems when you’re older.
And as I’m approaching the end of my 30-minutes rant for tonight (oh my God, I write way too much in 30 minutes -.-), my one last advice to (future / recent) graduates is:
Invest in yourself and your personal brand
In a world with an abundance of university graduates, you need to learn how to make yourself stand out to future employers. So explore ways in how to network with employers (by joining career fairs or information sessions), how to grow your personal skills (attending conferences, forums, talks, seminars), how to develop your skills (joining computer classes, polishing your writing and communication skills), and most importantly, how to make a good first impression.
There are tons of resources out there for you to utilize in growing your network and finding a job. Jobstreet, LinkedIn, career fairs, your parents’ or family friends, your peers, your lecturers, your seniors.
Learn what’s the new big thing or update in your intended field / industry. Invest in your self-development and learn from other experienced people. It is a huge huge world out there, and you need to be able to distinguish yourself from the other thousands, if not millions, of other job-seekers out there.
That is all for now, my 30-minutes are up. Until next time, stay awesome!