Let me guess.
You’re a college student or recent college graduate and you need help with your job search or career.
Hi stranger. I’m Josh – the 27-year old man-boy who lives with his parents and is about to give you the advice you need to hear.
Now you might ask yourself: “why would I take any advice from a guy who lives with his parents?”
Well, literally all the cool kids are doing it.
I’m just a guy pursuing financial freedom and trying to show others the path. My path just has more home cooked meals.
Here’s my best advice for college graduates:
1. Remember That Your Career is a Marathon
Just because you aren’t the Vice President of your dream company in 2.5 years doesn’t mean you aren’t winning at life.
It’s easy to get caught up and think that everyone else is doing better than you are. Truthfully, there are probably plenty of people looking at you and thinking the same thing. So relax.
There’s no such thing as a straight path.
Each step of your career is a chance for you to improve yourself and build your experiences into something special. Just don’t think that your job title or checking account will look all that special in a few short years.
2. Never Rely on Your Potential
It’s always fun being the new kid in town with all the promise in the world.
To be successful, college graduates need to quickly transition from the job search to being a functioning young professional. Regardless of what industry you’re in, you only get so many mistakes.
Focus on outperforming those around you and you’ll be known as a high-performer with high potential.
3. Max Out Your Company’s 401k Match Immediately
I think the Baby Boomers missed the boat on this whole “saving for retirement” thing – 41% have no retirement savings at all!
You like getting free money, right? Well, many employers will match a certain percentage of your 401k contributions, so make sure you get the whole benefit!
And don’t give me the excuse that you have too much student debt to focus on. I graduated with $165k in student loans and I found a way.
4. Live Frugally For AT LEAST a Couple Years
If I had one piece of advice for college graduates, this might be it.
Even if you’re trying like hell to move out of your parents’ house, you should find a way to live below your means for at least a couple of years.
Besides, if you don’t practice good money habits now, do you think it gets easier when your friends are getting married and having kids? Nah.
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5. Keep Your Resume Updated and Stay Opportunistic
This isn’t simply advice for college graduates – everyone should update their resume every six months.
It’s in your best interest to stay aware of opportunities as they arise.
First of all, you never know which new job could be a huge step in your development. Stay open-minded to what your life’s work consists of.
Secondly, you never know when you’ll need those recruiters. Building relationships with them now will make any bouts of unemployment more manageable.
6. Be Careful of the Company You Keep
Writing that down made me feel way older than I really am, but it’s true.
People in your work life will judge you based on who you spend time with, and your brand image is very, very important to uphold.
College graduates tend to stick together in the workplace. Don’t be cliquey – remember that you want the image of a professional and not a student, so act accordingly.
Find ways to learn from key decision makers and people who inspire you to improve.
Just don’t be known as the brown nose kid who follows the boss around all day.
7. Don’t Act Like a Know-It-All
We get it.
You graduated from a super-prestigious university, have a 4.0 GPA and saved a couple wild animals from extinction during your trip to Costa Rica.
No matter what you’ve accomplished before your first job, you start at square one like everybody else.
Besides, one day you’ll be the established veteran in the office. How would you like it if some college kid walked in like he owned the place?
Acting like you’re better than everybody else will only hurt others’ perception of you, and how do you think you’ll get raises and promotions? Based off how other people perceive you!
College students and college graduates, heed this advice: be humble – always!
8. Have No Ceiling
The best advice for a college graduate is to look at every day and every challenge as the learning opportunity it is.
You’ll get frustrated. You’ll have bosses you hate. You’ll wonder if this is what life is all about.
The level of success you achieve will be determined not by how many setbacks you face, but how you respond in those tough situations.
You didn’t get the promotion you wanted? OK – What are you going to do about it?
Forget about hierarchy and don’t be afraid to ask for what you think you deserve.
Never shortchange yourself because you’re young. It’s all in your mind. You create your own ceiling.
9. Learn to Reward Yourself
If you want to succeed in your first job and your career, you have to keep striving for the next accomplishment. You also need to congratulate yourself when you win.
The fastest ways to get burnt out are to get too complacent with mediocrity or push yourself too hard.
Like most things in life, you need to strike a balance. You can’t work 14-hour days for long, and you can’t rely on past accomplishments to push you to the forefront.
The only person you’re competing with is yourself, and your mental well-being will eventually be high on your list of priorities. Find your equilibrium.
10. Pay it Forward
Has anyone helped you in college or your career?
I remember being a student and sending out cold emails to alumni I had never met before.
Many of them didn’t answer, but I remember almost all the ones that did.
These moments stick out to me because they didn’t have to help me; they didn’t have to take time out of their day to help me find my way.
Life has a funny way of balancing things out. I believe in karma.
If you find ways to help others, I bet you’ll have people willing to offer guidance and support when you need it.
Don’t be a jerk – pay it forward!
Believe it or not, I was once in your shoes. That’s why my advice for college graduates comes from experience and observation. And living with my parents.
All opinions expressed on this blog are solely those of Home at 30 and are in no way affiliated with any other organization or institution. The purpose of this blog is to give general education and information about investing, wealth, careers, and college; It is not intended to be professional advice.
Author: Josh Ramos
After earning an undergraduate degree in Economics and a Master of Arts in Management at Wake Forest University, Josh has paid off over $110k in student loan debt in 4 years. By founding Home at 30, Josh wants to help you make the most of college, build a successful career, and achieve financial independence.