10 Things Every New Grad Should Know Before Entering the Real World


With graduation around the corner, and a still scary economy and job market, the moment of truth (entering the long anticipated "real world") is closer than what you think. But don't panic, this comprehensive list will guide you through your life's most important rite of passage to date. Read and share, because nowhere else will you find such a useful roadmap to the beggining of your life as a young adult. 

Congratulations Class of 2012!

1. Graduation is just around the corner for many college students and a majority of them see it as an opportunity to finally sleep in. Curling up in bed till 2:00 in the afternoon is necessary after finals week, but don’t make it a habit. Time is valuable, especially now that you’ve entered the real world. After a few days of catching up on your zzz’s, set your alarm clock and resume a normal sleeping routine. Even if you’re not working yet, get up early and do something productive—read the morning headlines, exercise, eat a hearty breakfast, clean your room. 

2. Though you’ve handed in your last final and ripped up your syllabus, don’t lose the connections and relationships you’ve made with your professors. These are the people who introduced you to the respective field(s) you’ve decided to pursue and chances are they’ve already been in your place.  Keep in touch with them. Fill them in on what you’re doing now, the types of jobs you’ve applied for, and the type of career you’re hoping to pursue. Your professors have insight and can advise you on the steps you should take to get to where you want to be. 

3. You’re already beginning to store away some of the things you’ve studied in the past four years.  Perhaps Calculus isn’t something you’ll need to remember in the future, but grammar, on the other hand, is one thing you should never forget. As you begin to prepare resumes and cover letters, don’t neglect minor spelling mistakes and commas. With the struggling economy and scarcity of jobs out there, carelessness does not look good. Set yourself apart from the stacks of other applicants a potential employer may be looking at.  It’s probably a good idea to have one of your English major friends to proofread for you—that’s another relationship you may want to hang onto.  Aside from resumes and cover letters, grammar is something you should continue to use once you’ve landed a job. Don’t disregard it in the emails you send out to colleagues and supervisors. It is reflective of your diligence and attention to detail. 

4. As trendy and affordable the clothing at Forever 21 is, the store is called “Forever 21” for a reason. Now that you’re entering the real world, you want employers and people in general to take you seriously. Unfortunately, it is common for people to pass instant judgment based on appearance. This does not mean you should stop shopping at retail shops geared toward young adults like Forever 21 (I, for one, still shop here and will continue to do so for as long as I can.)  Just be more cautious of the choices you make. Try to stay away from t-shirts with logos and ripped jeans. Choose great staple pieces that are appropriate for any occasion like pencil skirts, button-down shirts, black pants, dark denim, cardigans, blazers etc.  For you fellow Forever 21 shoppers, check out their Love 21 Contemporary line. It carries styles which are trendy, yet more sophisticated with longer hem lines—geared toward women in their 20s and 30s—and still sold at the affordable prices the store is known for. 

5. Those four years of pulling all-nighters have burnt you out, but not all of that work you did was done in scorn.  Remember that time when you couldn’t wait to turn in that essay you spent hours writing in the heat of passion? Don’t lose that impulse. Inspiration like this is what causes us to succeed and it is the driving force behind our impact on the world.

6. All-nighters were an excuse for the munchies. So you munched on burgers, fries, chips and cookies, even during the day. Now, it’s time to get back into shape.  Hit the gym and if that’s not your thing or you can’t afford it, find other ways to stay active. One way is to walk everywhere—to the supermarket, to the docs, to the mall. Make better food choices. Eat a balanced diet with foods high in protein and fiber. You’ll be healthier, but also more productive and energized throughout the day. 

7. After you’ve cleaned out your pantry, clean out your address book. Exes, old lovers and past flings are out of your life, so don’t leave a way for them to return and complicate things. Allow yourself to grow and move on to newer and more mature relationships. 

8. Venture out of usual hangouts. Find new spots to socialize and meet new people, perhaps in places with older crowds. A change of scenery is an opportunity to broaden your connections, strengthen your people-skills, develop new relationships and possibly even heighten your chances of meeting job prospects. 

9. The current job market doesn’t give graduates too many options. So chances are, you’ll have to take what you can get. That may be the reality now, but it doesn’t mean you should stop looking or pursuing your dream job. You’ve earned that degree and it’s only right that you put it to use.  Perhaps you’re working as a secretary now, but on your spare time, you should be looking at new jobs, internships and other ways to remain active in your field of study. Surely, the opportunity will arise and you’ll be ready for it once it does. 

10. Don’t get discouraged. Life after graduation may not be as thrilling as you hoped or expected.  The important thing is to stay motivated, optimistic and keep advancing towards your future.