Your five-step guide to nailing life after graduation

August 12, 2016
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We get it - #adulting is tough! We’ve teamed up Australian Defence Force to bring you tips and tricks on how to lead your way into a successful post-grad life.

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Uni can be painful at times, but you’re probably used to by now. Alas, nothing lasts forever, and come graduation day, you’ll be thrust from the halls of learning you never thought you’d miss and into the “real world” you never thought you’d be ready for.

At once liberating and terrifying, post-uni life can be a labyrinth of confused ambitions and alien financial jargon. But if life is a maze, consider Hijacked your Google Maps. Read on for our top tips on nailing life after graduation.

Make use of the downtime

You’ve just dedicated at least three years of your life on the altar of higher education so we reckon you’ve earned yourself a break (and more than a few drinks).

For you workaholics out there, it might be tempting to dive headfirst into your career – that might even be the right choice for some people – but first make sure you’ve got the energy for it. The last thing you want is to burn out six months into your first real job, so take care of yourself.

List some goals

Now that you’re good and refreshed, you can start tackling postgrad life head-on.

Think about where you see yourself in 12 months’ time. Do you want to be working full-time? Living out of home? Seeing the world?

A good idea is to think about the kind of lifestyle you want. Do you want to travel? If so, what are willing to sacrifice? A month abroad might mean a year of full-time saving. Figure out what you want, then work out what you’ll have to give up to get it – nothing comes for free.

Assess the lay of the land

If you do decide you want to nail that grad job, a good first step is to suss out what the necessary experience is, and then look for the gaps in your own CV.

A sneaky way to do to this is to jump on LinkedIn and have a good old fashioned stalk. Find whoever currently occupies your dream position, and comb through their job history to see what kind of career path they took. This should give you a rough idea of what your next step is.

And remember, right up until you don your gown and mortarboard, you can lean on your uni’s career counsellors for free advice. If you’d like to squeeze a little more experience under your belt, internships are also a viable option before you officially graduate.

Upskill

If you’ve never been on your own before, now’s the time to get some survival skills.

If you don’t know how to do laundry, learn – your shirts aren’t going to magically iron themselves anymore. If your idea of cooking consists of making Leftover Surprise from your parents’ leavings, grab a cookbook from your local op shop (this is also a solid investment in your social life).

Then there’s the non-domestic hurdles of post-uni life. It might be a drag, but learning how to do (or spend) your taxes, writing a realistic budget and taking proper care of your wheels will be invaluable once you hang up that degree. Luckily, the Internet is packed with advice about these things, as are bookstores and any non-condescending elders you might have around.

Finally, consider upskilling in an academic sense. There are a number of post-graduate opps for those looking to take things to the next level. Often further study allows you to build up not only professional, but personal leadership skills. Post-grad study often brings with it a number of lifestyle benefits (hello work-life balance!!), diversity of career opportunities, and will tap into your future potential. Win-win, really.

Forget the window-dressing

Trying to #adult can sometimes feel like a race to be the most polished, well-spoken and mature person on earth. But while looking the part is all well and good, it’s important to remember that employers will mostly judge you on your skills, experience and attitudes – the rest is icing. Let the pretenders flail about with their expensive shoes and memorised vocabularies, while you wow people with your preparation and work ethic.

Some will tell you to “fake it ’til you make it,” but in our experience, the fakers tend to get caught out. Whether you’re in an interview or on the job, if you don’t know something, just ask. Curiosity is far more useful (and endearing) than pretending to know everything.

Looking for the next challenge during post-uni life? The Royal Military College can help you progress to a higher level with Army Officer training. Learn more here.

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Joel Svensson

Business major, journalism minor and freelance writer, Joel Svensson pretends to be clever at La Trobe University in Melbourne.

Image: Alan LightFlickr Creative Commons license

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