This post may contain affiliate links; see site footer for more details.
Check out all gorgeous new arrivals from Raelynn’s Boutique here! (P.S. use your discount code!)
Graduation season is upon us! Friends, I’m freaking out. This giant 4-year adventure is about to conclude, I’m about to officially move in with J forevs, le biz is about to be full throttle…it’s so exciting and scary and crazy and exhilarating. Given all of the above, too, it’s easy to feel completely intimidated by “the real world.” But guys…we can do it. You can do it. There are generations upon generations of folks already “doing it” post-graduation, and many of them turned out alright. 😉 I talked to some of my closest peeps and ended up compiling this nice lil’ list of essentials to know/learn/do/try/start once you’ve got that diploma and you’re walking off the stage of school and onto the stage of life.
24 things every college grad needs to succeed at life after graduation:
- Know basic first aid and healthy care. Know how to treat a burn, what medicine is good for muscle pain, what to do if you’ve been vomiting/are hungover, how to decide which cold/allergy medicine to use. In my case, I call my mom, because she’s the best nurse I’ve ever met ever and better than most doctors I’ve met, too. #notbiased. Otherwise, WebMd is actually good for something besides making you think you have cancer from a toothache – they’ve got a “First Aid and Emergencies” section for quick topics. And MayoClinic also has a buncha first aid-related resources, so bookmark both to have on hand in case of a first aid emergency.
- How to navigate a kitchen. What size pot to use to cook pasta without a major boil over (a BIG pot, + salt the water once you hit boil, before adding pasta), how to follow a recipe while managing multiple dishes at the same time (important for entertaining!), who to call when you need to be rescued (lookin’ at you, Mom).
- Laundry 101. How to sort it correctly, not shrink it, get stains out for good…different than the collegiate just-throw-all-five-loads-in-the-washer-when-your-laundry-bag-is-full approach of many.
- How to build a time buffer into all of your plans and schedules. I’m SO BAD at this currently. But it’s way less stressful to arrive 5 minutes early than to be running 10 minutes late. Plus it makes you look way better to be an earlybird than a late bloomer when plans have been made and you’re the one holding things up. Be generous in the time you allow yourself to get ready and get from place to place.
- Get flexible. Not as in “I can do a back bend or straddle split,” but as in “I can adapt and roll with the punches.” Life throws a lot of them. Be able to take ’em like Rocky, and/or punch back if/when necessary.
- Know basic sewing and mending. Or at least who to ask to get it done for you. How to use safety pins, tape, seam-mending, and a hot glue gun. #important
- How to use said hot glue gun without gluing important things together. Straight up dangerous if you don’t know what you’re doing. When you accidentally glue something to your parent’s kitchen table, you know it’s time to step up your game. #mybad
- Learn to read the instructions or directions or manual – on anything that has them. It’s not a sign of weakness. It’s just silly to think we somehow innately know all this random building stuff. And don’t build furniture while drinking alcohol. That doesn’t end well for anyone. Every college grad needs to be able to build a basic Ikea set without breaking anything. Bare minimum.
- Get comfy asking questions. Ask and ye shall receive. A lil’ nugget of wisdom from Jesus and your professors at office hours. Still holds true, always.
- Be willing to learn. Strive to learn at least one new thing a day. If you vow to stop learning once you’re done in classrooms, you’re vowing to not really progress in life here on out.
- Create a line up of experts for all sorts of topics. Have a go-to list to call on hand for anything you foresee needing advice or a helping hand. Don’t try to reinvent the wheel, girlfriend! 😉 Know which family member specalizes in what, and which girlfriend has experienced XYZ before. It’ll help when you’re in a pinch and need a trusted pointer!
- Get with a budget budget budget. You probably know your income off the top of your head, but that won’t cut it! Document your incomes and expenses in a program like Excel. Be strict with yourself, so that when you inevitably wiggle a little in it, you won’t find yourself on a financial struggle bus. Distinguish wants from needs and actually stick to those. Do I want those shoes? Heck yes. Do I need those shoes? …heck yes. HA KIDDING. Really though, things like your electric bill and rent are non-negotiables and should be budgeted first and foremost, before you’ve even had a hot sec to THINK about going out for drinks or splurging on a designer bag. (New to budgeting? No worries! Here’s your Beginner’s Guide to Budgeting, as well as an Advanced Beginner’s Guide to Budgeting with tips from my budget-happy fiance 🙂 ). Just swear to yourself that you won’t overspend and fall into the false sense of “I NEED EVERYTHING” lifestyle that can come with having regular money coming into the bank.
- Start caring about your credit score. Like, what the heck even IS a credit score? The basics: avoid credit card debt. When you have credit card debt, pay it off ASAP. Worst case scenario, always always ALWAYS make your minimum monthly payment. Once your credit score starts to go down, you worsen your chances of being approved for things like car loans, mortgages, more credit cards, etc.
- Long-term plan on a one-year basis. Look out to the end of year from wherever you’re at and plan out your bills, cash inflow and outflow, and what you’ll have leftover. This ties into budgeting basics, but it’s helpful in projecting for bigger expenses, like travel, music festivals, or bigger line-item purchases (like a car!).
- Create an emergency fund. Because s*** happens. “Emergency” is not “Crap, I need a hair pickmeup like yesterday” or “Rough week, need a drink right now.” “Emergency” means “My water heater just broke,” “I was in a car accident and my car was totaled,” “Surprise medical fiasco.” If you don’t hold yourself to an emergency standard, you risk getting into financial doo-doo when something unexpected and awful *does* happen, and you’re stuck with ginormous bills and no idea how to pay ’em.
- How to shop for groceries. Seemingly easy when in college, but you can no longer live on Ramen and Oreos alone now. Find a grocery store with regular deals, and get familiar with their weekly flyer. Know where to find le bargains, and shop around those. My mom always taught me to literally plan meals around what’s on sale – buy the supplies first, and then hit up Pinterest for a creative spin. If chicken is what’s on sale, make that your meat and plan the week’s meals accordingly. Same goes for sale produce – saving those few cents and dollars in the short term adds up over time!
- Make a 3-5 year plan. You don’t need to have it all together for that, but you’re not in school anymore. There’s no “next year I’ll be a sophomore” or “next year I’ll be a senior.” You’re excited for this next “real world” step, but that excitement won’t necessarily last – because now, there is no set-in “next step.” Having a 3-5 year plan gives you things to look forward to in life, according to J. It’s a way of making your years measurable like college.
- Get a hobby to get you THROUGH the 3-5 year plan. You might have ambitions for a new job after two years or a change of pace and place after four, but there are 365 days in a year…and only a few months revolve around Christmas. SO, get a hobby that you lovelovelove to make the weekly grind more enjoyable. J plays basketball, I play piano and sing, and we love watching movies together. They’re seemingly small life details that make a big difference in the grand scheme of your happiness!
- Don’t overcommit in your first three months out. More wise words from my fiance. Let yourself acclimate to your new job and new environment. See how your job affects your life. Once you’re all settled in, boredom might start to set in, and you’ve already had ~six pay cycles so you know what your financial situation is – now you can start flexing your social muscles, joining community organizations, and exploring your options more.
- Temper your enthusiasm at your new job. Hard one. You want to be that person who is grateful for the job and enthusiastic, but don’t be that person who is so damn excited for the job that you turn off your coworkers, or that you forget your own worth and just do whatever the heck anyone wants of you. J added this one to the mix, too, from his own personal experiences, and I think it’s clutch. Being TOO ray-of-sunshiney can be overwhelming at first, especially to older coworkers who might be in a more stale period of their own careers, or who are just way used to “the way things are.” That’s not to say you can’t be the bubble of energy in the office – it just means gauge your surroundings, and don’t be the playful kitten if everyone else is grumpy cat.
- Speaking of kittens, adopt a kitten. Kittens enhance life. They’re relatively cheap to adopt and keep alive, and they bring immense joy every day you come home. No need to take them outside to use the bathroom or plan your life around them. They’re easy to transport, they’re okay to leave at home for a bit, and they’re simply the bomb dot com. As Nike says, just do it.
- Laugh at yourself. A lot. Because none of us really know what the heck is happening, anyways. And actually though, laugh at yourself because serious and stressful things will happen. S*** will hit the fan. Being able to hold onto your positivity and joy means a waaaaay easier navigation through the storms.
- Invest in a few really great pieces in your wardrobe. A gorgeous, classic dress for fancier affairs (+ score 10% off with code Roses10), a versatile work bag, a pair of comfortable but chic heels, an iconic work-appropriate lip color – the list goes on. If you want/need any recommendations for any of the above or would want to see an entire blog post about this sorta girly stuff, let me know in the comments below!
- BALANCE. Work/life balance – what the heck is that, amiright?? HA, But seriously, don’t feel the need to be a workaholic just because you’re a new college grad or a millennial or an overachiever, or whatever other things society tells you you need to be. It’s important to take time for yourself. It’s important to take time for your family and friends, and to know when to put them first – even above your work. At least think about it from the get go so that it’s a part of your routine right off the bat; it makes for easier transitions down the road.
Check out all gorgeous new arrivals from Raelynn’s Boutique here! (P.S. use your discount code!)
What do you think every college grad needs to succeed in life after graduation?
I’d lovelovelove to hear your thoughts, suggestions, what you wish you knew…the works! Drop a comment below and let’s chat about it.
P.S. Didja miss the last post on CUR? It’s a doozy.
P.P.S. PHILADELPHIA friends – MARK YO’ CALENDARS! Naot Footwear and Benjamin Lovell Shoes are hosting a #NaotGivesBack event this Friday, May 13th, from 10 am until 4 pm at the Benjamin Lovell Shoes store downtown (18th and Sansom). Every time someone comes in and simply tries on a pair of shoes, they’re donating a pair to the People’s Emergency Center (PEC) – a nonprofit that provides services to homeless women and their children. If someone buys a pair, Naot Footwear will donate two pairs. It’s a really cool give-back opportunity to serve our community, and you’re not even obligated to make a purchase to help out. PLUS, I’ll be there at some point to do my own part, and I’d lovelovelove to see you there. 😉