Graduating from college is a big life adjustment and comes with a lot of stress. But graduating from college in December, one semester early, takes it to a whole new level. Leaving your friends behind and figuring out the job search are both part of the struggle.
There are, however, many benefits for graduating in December, too. These tips will help you through this challenging, but liberating, time of your life.
Beat the Rush
With the majority of students graduating in the spring, you have the advantage of getting to the job market before them, so take it. Don’t think that because you graduated early, you can take your time applying. Stay ahead of the game and make your cover letter shine. The New Year is an awesome time to job search because company budgets are typically open to new positions.
Get Your Lease Covered
Most college apartment leases are yearly, which can make graduating early a real headache. Patrol for potential candidates early, and don’t be afraid to plaster the campus with flyers or list your apartment on Craig’s List. Most universities have Facebook pages for each graduating class, so post your apartment space on each one to generate some attention. Understand that you may have to make some adjustments, such as lowering your rent or paying for the utilities. These could go a long way in finding someone and still save you money.
Stay in Touch
Balancing friendship post-graduation is hard for everybody. And when your friends are still partying during the workweek, it’s even more difficult. Understand that you’re at different times in your lives. Schedule time together a few weekends ahead of time. You can crash on their couch, and this will let them know you’re not ditching them forever.
Also, weekly Skype sessions or phone calls will help you stay involved in what’s going on at school and in your friends’ lives. It’s also a great opportunity to visit some of your friends at other campuses. Being less tied to your own school gives you more freedom to do so.
Master Your Grad Photos
It’s tricky taking a decent graduation picture when you’re surrounded by three feet of snow. You may want to consider making arrangements to get your cap and gown early so you can take pictures with the fall campus as your backdrop.
Alternatively, you can plan a trip back to school when the rest of your friends graduate with blooming flowers and lovely blues skies. This works out because you’ll actually be able to take photos with the people you spent the last four years with.
Don’t Miss Networking Opportunities
One frustrating part about graduating in December is that most career fairs and networking events occur in the spring. This means you may have to do a little extra research ahead of time. Talk to your parents, professors and friends and see if they know of any earlier opportunities for you. They may be able to set you up with a meeting or know of a campus event.
Navigate the Job Search
Graduating early means one less semester to figure out the job search. Don’t count on mastering it after you graduate. Prep the entire time leading up to that walk across the stage. Practice the daunting act of acing an interview, get organized and be confident before the pressure is really on.
Take Advantage of the Time to Detox
Dollar pitchers, half-priced margaritas and wing nights enticed you to drink, drink, drink in college. But now those months of binging will motivate you to cleanse your system. There are many ways to go about detoxing, from physical to spiritual activities and even mentally stimulating activities. Get out of the college mindset, and your health will thank you. While you should visit your friends still in school, don’t make the visits so frequent that your liver hasn’t noticed a difference.
Be Smart with Your Gifts
Chances are your family is going to be pretty proud of you for graduating in three and a half years. Don’t blow all that extra cash on your senior bar crawl. Instead, put the money to good use by purchasing an outfit to wear to your first job interview or putting it toward paying off loans. Consider asking your family for presents that will be helpful in the job market, like a new portfolio or resume paper.
You may think you have a better chance of getting hired in the spring, but you’re ultimately in control of the opportunities you find. Stay on top of job sites and monitor your accounts. Set up job alerts on sites like Indeed, which will send you an email every time a positon becomes available in your field. The same is true with following the right sources on social media. When you’re sitting on the couch scrolling through Twitter and you see opportunities popping up left and right, you’ll be motivated to apply.
Entering the “real world” is not the end of the world; in fact, it’s just the beginning. And don’t worry, the rest of your friends will be joining you there shortly. Get a jump start and make the most of it while you still can.
Sarah Landrum is a freelance writer and career blogger sharing advice on finding happiness and success in the work world. Her career advice blog, Punched Clocks, is all about career development and helping you land the job of your dreams. You can find her dishing out advice with a side of wit online on Twitter | Google+ | LinkedIn