By Tracey Rector, Alumna of IUPUI
Being a student is so time consuming. Tests, homework and papers take up a lot of your free time. So it’s only understood that post-graduation, your life will be less busy. Right? Well, not exactly. Life takes over and there is a whole new list of responsibilities.
Here is a list of what you may encounter post-graduation from a group of ladies and myself who have been in your footsteps:
1. Proof your cover letter and resume 10 times. Then have friends or family proof it. After someone else proofs it, look over it one more time before sending it out. You would be surprised the things you miss. Also, when writing a cover letter, make it specific to the job you’re applying to. Then after an interview, it never hurts to send a thank you note. If emailing, send a thank you note within 24 hours, but not immediately after the interview either.
2. Upon receiving a job offer, don’t be afraid to negotiate salary or benefits. Many times, companies will low-ball. Once you land a job (or even just in the interview stage), always be professional and courteous.
3. As a part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, you can stay on your parent’s health insurance until you turn 26, but then after that you’re on your own. Different employers offer different health insurance plans, here are some examples of what you might be able to expect from BlueCross BlueShield. When signing up for your own health insurance plan, don’t be afraid to research and ask questions. Different health insurance plans work best for different people.
4. Sign up for a 401K as soon as you’re able. By not delaying it, you’ll be used to the money coming out of your check and you’re set for retirement. Yes, it’s many, many years away, but you would be surprised how long you can put it off. Also, if your company matches, try to put the amount they will match. It’s free money! Another great aspect of starting your 401K at a younger age is the ability to be a little more aggressive. Your employer or 401K provider can help you if you’re lost.
5. Build credit, but don’t get in bad debt. Paying your car payment and other bills on time helps build your credit. Then there are credit cards, which help you, but it’s also very easy to get out of control with them, so watch your spending. If you qualify for a 0 percent interest for a certain time period, take advantage of that and pay it off by the date. Once interest kicks in, it’s really easy to become overwhelmed with debt.
6. Get your finances in check by making sure you pay all your bills on time and even look into automatic bill pay for some of your consistent bills that won’t have changing amounts. Sometimes bills, such as your cable or electric bill, could change month to month, so you may want to make sure you are OK to have those on automatic bill pay (if it’s an option). Also, get a savings account AND actually put money into it. Once you’re in the real world, you will be responsible for your doctor visits, car repairs and all other unexpected expenses. There are many banks out there to help you with your finances, one being PNC’s Virtual Wallet.
7. If you’re renting on your own, look into renter’s insurance to protect your items if your landlord doesn’t already require it. Many insurance companies offer renter’s insurance, and you may even be able to tag it along with your car insurance. Read more details in this Allstate article.
8. You’ve been in school for four or five years and unfortunately you’re going to have to start paying off your loans. Typically, you start paying back six months after graduation. Deferment is possible in some circumstances. Work with your lender or lenders to ensure you understand your repayment plan. Also, if you have several different loans, you can look into consolidation.
9. The time you spent on homework will be filled in other ways. In school, your top priority was homework, studying, etc. Now, the nice thing is you won’t have any more homework. However, after graduation, real life will take over. The time you spent on schoolwork will now be filled with cleaning, running errands, managing finances, laundry, etc. Some of those things you definitely already have been doing, but you would be surprised on how your time gets filled differently than when you were in school.
10. The world is your stage. You’ve graduated and are moving on to the next phase of your life. If you are super dependent on your parents, it may be a bit of a wake-up call, but it will be a good one. If there’s one thing to take away, it’s that while you’ve graduated, there is still much to learn about life. We’re all forever students.
Thank you to the following ladies who contributed advice for this blog: Susan Adkins Gillespie, Katherine Sanpere, Angela Westhead Arcuri, Erin Pittman, Betsy Uffelman Fernandez, LaToya Eff, Amy Gilmore Rectanus, Keyna B, Karen Chaffkin Skillings, Brandie Peters Shaffchick, Keisha Washington and Lisa Prokop Jilbert.