Ask the Readers: What Advice Would You Give a New Grad?

By Ashley Jacobs on 7 June 2016 57 comments

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The academic year is ending (or has ended for some schools) and a horde of young graduates will be unleashed upon society. Some of them will continue their education in higher learning, while others will start their careers — or working towards finding one.

What advice would you give a new grad? Do you have different tips for high school graduates as opposed to college graduates? What do you think is the biggest challenge for new graduates right now?

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Guest's picture
Ashley M.

I would encourage new college grads to forget about pay/salary and to search for jobs/internships that will give them the right experience. Yes, paying back student loans is scary- but what's scarier is being in a job that doesn't provide personal fulfillment.

Guest's picture
Mami2jcn

My advice for a new college graduate would be to not be afraid to take on a job that isn't exactly what you had in mind. I took a job immediately after college because I wanted to be able to support myself and move out on my own. I knew people who waited 6 months or even a year for a job, because they were very picky. In the meantime, I was gaining work experience and had my employer paying for my grad school.

Guest's picture
Susan Brewin

Don't be afraid to try new things. You will never know unless you try. Also, always, always save 10% of what you make.

Guest's picture
Julie Wood

I would tell new Grads to be open to other careers that might not be in their field.

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Sally Newton

Go to. Temp service asap and see what your options are..At a local temp service we discovered that their are employers out there that have many temporary jobs that need done. My daughter had a job the day after she graduated and can take her time to figure out what's next. Also if your school that you just graduated from has summer dual classes that can be used as part of your college degree go take them...they are usually free and will save on taking them in the fall at college..

Guest's picture
Matt

I would tell new graduates to start a retirement fund right away, especially if they have an employer match. Take advantage of compound interest!

Guest's picture
Tracy

Find your passion.

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Elena

My advice would be live on less than you earn

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Gina

I would tell high school grads to attend a community college and then transfer to a university. I'd tell college grads to max out their 401K and take advantage of any other tax savings at their jobs to make the most of compound interest.

Guest's picture
Monique Hubert

Don't be afraid to try things that interest you, even if it doesn't seem to be following your exact plan. Trust me, you will have to adjust your plans many times as you go in life. Don't be in a rush to do anything either, you'll have plenty of time so make sure you enjoy yourself and find time to do things you care about. College and high school are barely scratching the surface of your life education. And for high school grads, I strongly suggest not declaring your major before you get a chance to try different courses, there's so much you don't know yet as a college freshman!

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Karen L

I'd say "Don't let your major completely define your job search."

Guest's picture
Jean S.

Relax and enjoy! Almost nothing you're worried about today will define your tomorrow. Down the road, don't be afraid to take a pay cut to follow your passion. But do stash a few bucks in a 401(k) and/or IRA now.

Guest's picture
Tina in NJ

Get a realistic idea of your net worth and what things actually cost. Finishing school feels like a huge financial release, and to some extent it is, but don't go crazy. Save as much as you can before you leave the nest. Once you've taken care of the needs, then enjoy a few wants, like a new phone or TV.

Guest's picture
Kevin

Live with your parents (but pay them rent or offer to help out on certain expenses) for a few years before getting your own place. This will give you time to pay off some student loans and debts. It'll also give you time to save up more money to move into a nicer place, rather than having to share an apartment with 3 other people.

Guest's picture
Yvonne

Open an IRA immediately and don't touch the money you invest!

Guest's picture
Jenny D

My advice to high school grads: If you're going to go to college and you have one near home, go there if it will work with your major - you'll save a lot of money living at home, commuting with other local students, and you'll still have a great time. Going to college for the "experience" is a waste of time and money. Apply for scholarships and grants...pay as you go by working a side job...you won't regret it!

For college graduates: It might take some time to find your ideal job...I think you'll do well to find something in the meanwhile - it'll help on your job resume to show you're a hard worker who is willing to begin low and work up. Side jobs can pay off - you never know what doors may open for you.

Your biggest challenge is getting your education for the best possible deal. If you need to begin paying student loans, here's a helpful article: http://www.gatherlittlebylittle.com/2011/01/question-about-student-loan-...

Guest's picture
Kelli

Don't get into credit card debt and put away as much money as possible as soon as you can (savings, 401k, etc.)!

Guest's picture
Elle

My advice would be to be open to different job opportunities even if it isn't exactly what you wanted. You can gain experience that can help you.

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Julie Lundstrom

My advice to a college grad is to not get frustrated and give up. Finding the right job could take time so get a job to help pay bills while looking for the job that will be your job of choice.

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Susan P.

Keep plugging away and tweak your resume for different jobs.

Guest's picture
V

Live cheaply. You may have student loans that are asking for your paycheck now, or you may just be completely tapped after paying for books, fees, and working only 20 hours a week for four years. You may be tempted to spend those first real paychecks, but make sure you have at least an emergency fund in place before you go crazy.
Also, take that job that you're sure isn't your dream job. No one gets the dream job right out of college, and you'll be shocked at how much you don't actually know about your chosen profession. These first few years in the work force are just about gaining industry knowledge and common practices and creating good work habits; things you just don't find in a textbook.

Guest's picture
Susan Smith

My advice to a new grad would be to go to a company that will help you write a good resume.

Guest's picture
Trish

For high school grads get involved in your community or if going on to college get involved in extracurricularss there too! This is the best way to network and make connections once you graduate in order to land jobs in the future. Connect with as many people as you can!

Guest's picture
Mary W

Keep your expectations low in the beginning. It may take many decades to find the job that is your passion.In the meantime, you are collecting experience and wisdom. Enjoy the time you have while you are young to be young.

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Liz

I would tell a new grad that their first job isn't going to be their dream job, but they need to try things to get experience and to learn what they do like in a job. Each subsequent job they hold will be closer to their dream job.

Guest's picture
Jeff

Invest early and often

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Donna D

Start putting money away for retirement as soon as possible, thinks of the years it will have to build.

Guest's picture
Emily

Live with roommates. Live cheap. Go out a lot. Travel. Start saving. Pay cash. Take on zero debt. Sleep around within reason.

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Stephanie M

Always buy used cars never brand new cars! Use the savings to pay down student loans! You will also save a little money with cheaper car insurance! WIN WIN WIN!

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Guest

Be resilient and persistent, and never fear failure. Many of the world's most successful people got there failing step by step until they arrived.

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Guest

Live way below your means so you can start saving money, and get a job in your desired career path asap (don't hang around retail or something when you now have a degree that you worked hard for and is worth something).

Guest's picture
Guest

I would stress on integrity. As a banker, I see some colleagues with zero integrity. It scares me. It almost seems like honesty and good values are "old fashioned" virtues. No job in my organization is rocket science. Anyone with average intelligence can pick up the work with some diligence. But integrity is most important. Once we are willing to compromise on that, then our careers take a downward spiral. People with shallow values might see short term success and gains, which can be intoxicating. But in the long term, their lack of a moral compass will surely come to trip them up.

Guest's picture
Karen

Spend less than you earn.

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MELISSA HANSSON

I would recommend to a new grad that they keep their private life private at work (no Facebook or cell phones during company time), to display a strong work ethic and try to find a living situation where they are able to live comfortably and still have some money for fun and some money for savings.

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Michelle D.

I would tell them to get an internship in a field you are interested in. Don't worry about salary, just try to learn as much as possible and get contacts/connections.

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Ernest S.

Make sure to save money for traveling. My biggest regret is not traveling more when I was in my 20s!

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Lynda

find your passion(s) but be ready for the off chance that you can't make money from them

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Gina

My advice would be to refrain from increasing your cost of living. Live like a college student until you have paid off ALL debt.

Guest's picture
Rebecca Ross

If they were a high school graduate, I would tell them to look at going into something that pays well, will have a lot of options, and can't be outsourced. The whole "do what you love, and the money will follow" quote is a bunch of crap! It should say "if you do what you love, be happy being poor"! Also, take out as few student loans as possible, pay any off a quickly as possible, and still look and try for scholarships all the way through school. Internships are great and getting an associates degree that you can go to work with right away with, and build up into a BA/BS (and further) is great, too. You never know when life might make you have to stop your education and work, so having a usable degree in 2 years is good. Remember everybody starts at the bottom, works up, and never be "above" or "too good" to do a job.

Guest's picture
Kristin Goodson

I would tell new grads to keep their options open. They may not get their dream job offer right away. They might have to work their way thru a job to get the job that they really want. For high school grads I would tell them to try to get a side job to help pay for books/tuition.

Guest's picture
Erika

The advice I would give a new high school graduate is to go to a local community college and complete your basics there while saving a lot of money on tuition in the process. If you can, stay at home (but help out your parents with rent or other bills with a part time job). A lot times, many high school grads do not yet know what they want to do and that's totally fine. Getting your basics done at a community college is ideal and will allow you to transfer to a four year state school. Finally if you haven't already, start saving a little here and there. This is crucial.

Guest's picture
SKB

If you are off to college, study and pass your classes. Not everyone will make the dean's list but you do want to graduate. If you are going off to work, start saving a bit of that paycheck from the very beginning.

Guest's picture
Suz_Glo

The biggest challenge for (many but not all) graduates is realism. Get a job, do it well and reap the rewards of that experience. I cringe every time I hear someone advice recent grads to "follow their dreams" or "don't compromise". I think that advice does a real disservice to young people. You can always work and strive for something different or "better" but don't wait around for your perfect job.

Guest's picture
BRB

Be careful of lifestlye inflation. Wait on any changes until you get your first few pay checks. It's never as much as you think it should be!

Guest's picture
Miss kim

Don't love beyond your means

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Ashley

My advice would be to try to pay off as much student loans as you can and be frugal and live like a college student even after getting a job.

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Sheryl

Find something you enjoy, save for retirement, enjoy experiences over consumer goods.

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Michael

My advice would be to travel before you get a job. Once you get a job, you won't have time and time moves so fast!

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Happy Love

Always save part of your paycheck, even if it's only $10 per month.

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Erin

I would tell them to make sure to keep in touch with your college friends even after graduation.

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Stephanie

Save as much as you can. Don't waste it on clothes, shoes, makeup and things that depreciate in value.

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Bethany

Don't do a bunch of fast food in college.

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Sarah

I would say to travel before getting a job or settling down

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Kat

I would tell them to go to a community college and then transfer. It saves so much money.

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Tabathia B

The job market is slim, don't take on any extra debt, don't try to live it up, be frugal, pay any loans and don't over extend yourself with credit cards

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Thomas Murphy

My advice is find what you love to do.

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Barbara Montag

I would say learn how to budget and try to stick to it!
thank you

Guest's picture
Guest

A few words of advice:

1.) Open a retirement savings account NOW.
2.) Get in the habit of saving or paying off school debt aggressively. Understand that every time you buy something, you are making a financial decision - spending money today means less money for something big in the future. Figure out what your financial priorities and goals are.
3.) Don't be afraid to do a volunteer year like AmeriCorps - it can provide you with invaluable experience both for your resume and for figuring out what careers you do or don't like.