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4 Things To Do Before You Graduate College

Create a LinkedIn Profile

It doesn’t matter if you’re pursuing a post-secondary option or entering the workforce, a LinkedIn profile helps establish credibility and your online presence.

More importantly, how you establish your profile is very important. It is the way you connect to other professionals and stay in front of prospective future employers passively without actively having to look. It also serves as a channel for you to stay up to date with news in relevant industries and topics.

If you feel overwhelmed or not sure where to start with creating your profile, we recommend using an existing resume. LinkedIn is fairly user-friendly and doesn’t require a lot of effort to get started. If you already have a profile, when was the last time it was updated? Be sure to keep it current and up to date.

Lastly, if you don’t want to use LinkedIn, another option is creating your own blog or website. This requires a little more technical know-how and up-front cost, but can have some big benefits — like full customization of your site. Research WordPress or Wix for blogging software and GoDaddy or Namecheap for purchasing a domain name.

Attend Professional Networking Events

Networking is a fantastic way to build new business and even personal relationships.

Recent college graduates often feel out of place going to networking events for established workers within a given industry. Researchers believe that people at this juncture of their lives suffer from “imposter syndrome” due to feeling inadequate as a result of inexperience.

However, it is important for younger professionals to network as you have a much higher likelihood of landing a strong first position if you meet people in person versus submitting for an entry level position in an online portal.

More experienced professionals and hiring managers are more likely to give a chance to someone they build an interest in through a low-stakes contact point, such as a network event, luncheon or conference. It’s easy to meet people and it’s a low-pressure environment. This isn’t like a job interview or competition, but an opportunity to build relations and step outside your comfort zone.

Being able to meet other professionals or like-minded people in-person is a valuable skill. It gives you the opportunity to tell your own story and meet interesting individuals. You might also find a valuable internship opportunity or even job offer, so make sure to have a few talking points about your background and industry interests.

Overall you have nothing to lose by going to a conference event. Below are organizations and groups within different industries to help you evaluate what could be right for you.

  • SHRM – Human Resources
  • PMI – Project Management Institute
  • AITP – Association of Information Technology Professionals
  • AFP – The Association of Financial Professionals
  • AICPA – American Institute of CPAs
  • NASP – National Association of Sales Professionals

Remember: this is only a small sampling of professional organizations. This doesn’t even include all the other research organizations, annual conferences, retreats, and so on where networking occurs. Doing your own research will produce the best results. If you aren’t sure where to start, ask a few professors or search on LinkedIn for groups.

Create a Detailed Resume

Many students struggle to put together a detailed resume right after graduation. But it is important for graduates to remember how much they have been a part of over the last four years. Experience in fraternities, sororities, or other campus-based organizations are great to note especially if you held a position of influence among your peers.

Also any collegiate athletics or volunteer opportunities you have taken part of will also help build a complete resume. The most important piece of advice to remember is to include anything that separates you from your peers and supports the ability to share a narrative while being interviewed (or to serve as talking points at a networking event).

While LinkedIn may be a living resume, so to speak, it’s vital to maintain a current resume. You will need a resume when applying for a job or internship. These days it is a formality as part of job applications, so it is worth investing a few hours of time to build a solid resume.

If you have the means to do so, consider hiring a resume writing service. Expect to pay anywhere from $40 to $200 for a skilled editor/writer. That said, a strong resume can help get your foot in the door to begin the interview process and might well be worth the money.

Consider Refinancing Loans

While in college you were likely required to finance the cost of your education. Now as you begin to enter the working world payments will have to begin in six months. If you, like nearly 78% of student loan recipients, have taken money from different loan providers then processing of monthly payments can be tedious.

With separate loan providers you have multiple accounts to manage and often the interest rates you pay for while a student are much different than when you begin working full-time as an adult. Once you work full-time it is fully possible to refinance loans to a lower interest rate with a private provider or consolidate your loans. Or another option is to extend the length of payments to 15 or 20 years and lower your monthly payment.

The reality is everyone’s financial situation is different and you will need to do additional research, but regardless, there are options to consider. Being strategic and managing student loan debt now can help for future financial success.

Mario Dattilo
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