How to set goals: I’m a college graduate, what do I do now?

After working so hard to earn your degree it seems as if the hard part is over. You’re a college graduate and the world is yours. Just as setting smart goals was important for your student success, it will be even more important in seeing you through the rest of your life. Ask anyone who’s been out of college for a few years, and they’ll tell you that the easy part is over. Your work has just begun. Here are some options to explore once you’re a college graduate and some tips on how to set goals for the next part of your life.

As a soon-to-be college graduate, now is the time to figure out your next move.

As a soon-to-be college graduate, now is the time to figure out your next move.

I’m a college graduate, now what?

Come graduation day you’ll be standing there with your diploma in hand and a smile on your face—you should, you’re officially a college graduate! Deep inside, however, it may be a different story. Slowly the panic will set in as you realize that you need a plan to move forward. What will you do?

Your friends and family aren’t much help either. They keep pummeling you with the question, “What are you going to do now?” The panic will grow if you can’t come up with an answer. This is where you need those tips on how to set goals for the future!

In a March 28, 2014, interview for Today, “I Just Graduated … Now What?: A survival guide for those with no clue what lies ahead,” Katherine Schwarzenegger, daughter of Maria Shriver and Arnold Schwarzenegger, dispensed advice for the college graduate. Following the advice of her mother, Schwarzenegger made her choice. She would take time to think.

“PAUSE—and take the time to find out what’s important to you. Find out what you love, what’s real and true to you—so it can infuse and inform your work and make it your own,” Schwarzenegger advised.

People will be asking about your plans for the rest of your life. When will you get married? When will you start your family? When will you get that promotion? It’s ok to admit that you don’t have the answers. What’s important is that you stop beating yourself up about it.

Tips for your last semester

Taking a pause may mean taking a job. If you can secure the job of your dreams, so much the better. But it doesn’t have to be your dream job. It just has to be something to pay the bills for now.

In a January 30, 2014, article for Business Insider, “5 Things You Should Do In Your Last Semester Of College To Prepare For The Real World,” Lydia Dallett offered tips on how you can set yourself up for success after college. Dallett’s tips for getting a job offer include:

  • Pick something interesting for your first job: Don’t hold out for the ideal job. As a college graduate, you’ll only spend a couple of years in your first job after graduation.
  • Figure out smart goals and map a plan to achieve them: Whether it’s a job offer, grad school or an internship, make plans for achieving your goals.
  • Talk to Career Services: Make use of their job boards, self-assessment tests and help with resumes.
  • Apply for everything: Put the odds on your side by submitting lots of applications. Apply for different jobs and apply to a variety of companies. You never know where the next opportunity will come from.
  • Network: Talk to everyone from fellow students and professors to family and friends about what you want to do next. Make connections and keep in touch so that they’ll think of you when they have a lead to pass along.

“While it may feel extremely uncomfortable to sell yourself as a potential candidate, remember that most people you speak to are eager to help students because they were once in your position themselves,” Dallett wrote.

Tips for twenty-somethings

When you’re just starting out on the road of adulthood, it’s a good idea to set some ground rules for the rest of your life. Some of them may be the same types of rules you set for your own student success! You can start with the April 2, 2014, post, “9 Secrets to Real Success in your Twenties,” by Paul Angone for Life After College.

Angone’s tips include:

  • Use your time productively: Invest your time where it will do you the most good.
  • Be able to learn from failure: Everyone fails occasionally. Learning from failure helps you avoid becoming a failure.
  • Avoid getting stuck: Learn when it’s time to leave a bad situation.

According to Angone, “Operating at the right time with intentionality is a crucial and underrated life skill. Seasons come and go, if you don’t keep your eyes out for when the leaves are changing and plan accordingly, then you might be stuck out in a blizzard with your flip-flops.”

How have you answered the question “What do I do now?” once you’re a college graduate? Tell us in the comments below.

Posted in CB Blog, College life, College success tips, Graduate schools, Internships, Jobs & internships, Student jobs | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

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