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You’re a Graduate – Now What?

Graduation: Excitement. Uncertainty. Relief. Fear. More excitement.

Graduating is equally as exciting as it can be scary. You’ve worked so hard to get to this moment, and truly there’s a wealth of opportunities in store for you, but yet the question often remains — now what? Here are five things to help set yourself up for a successful future after graduation, both professionally and personally. You’ll need a notebook, a LinkedIn profile, motivation, and perseverance.

01. Don’t forget your passion

Think about the following: What made you go to school and go into that program in the first place? What problems in the world do you want to solve? What are your dreams? What is your professional end goal? What are the steps to get you there?

Staying true to the answers as much as possible and keeping the end goal in mind will help you navigate a lot of decisions: financial, professional (where and what you apply for, how you sell yourself on your resume and in the interview), and even personal ones such as your geographic location.

02. Do some job searching and don’t be afraid to put yourself out there

Do you have a company in mind that you’d love to work for? Connect with them on LinkedIn and be sure to write them a personal message when you do. Interact with their content, like their company page, and make them aware of who you are. You never know what opportunities might come up! If you don’t have any companies in mind, start researching online or through job boards.

While having a solid online presence is a good start, do know that most opportunities are not posted on job boards or online at all – most positions are filled with candidates found through word of mouth. Ask people in your current network if they know of ayone in your field they can refer you to or connect you with. You should be actively networking by going to events, workshops, panels, and really anything where you’ll be in a room full of people you don’t know as this is an amazing chance to practice your pitch and make memorable impressions. You never know what valuable connections or friendships you might make along the way.

03. Get real with money

Being “good” with money can be tricky while you’re in school. It’s certainly not impossible and some seem to be really organized with their finances no matter how busy they are or what financial baggage they carry. But if budgeting, saving, and being smart with your dollars isn’t in your wheelhouse, don’t fret! There are many great resources in Hamilton that can help you along the way, including Ambitious Adulting and Paper & Coin, both specializing in Millenial finances.

Take the time now to learn healthy habits that will leave you feeling in control and less stressed in the long run. Afterall, it’s not just about making money, it’s about what you do with it.

04. Make time for your hobbies and exercise

Finding time for hobbies during the school year is hard, I know. And now the hustle is moving from completing schoolwork to starting your career.

Carving out time for both exercise and the things you enjoy can seem difficult, but it’s so beneficial for your mental health and overall enjoyment of life. Having something you care about to occupy your time outside of work has been shown to improve your work performance, too. Don’t let work make you lose sight of the things you cherish.

05. Take time to reflect

It can be easy to downplay everything that you’ve achieved and how you’ve grown throughout your education. However, it’s critical to reflect on it.

Reflection turns experience into learning and thoughts into values. It brings clarity to unhealthy habits, mistakes, and ways you’ve mishandled time. Conversely, it helps clarify goals, generate ideas, reduces stress, and makes you happier. The lessons that you’ve learned, whether it be self-discipline, teamwork, leadership, or tenacity, amongst many other things, will not go to waste during your career so be sure to take note of them and apply them routinely to your daily life.

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