Graduate School to Career: A Path for Success

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As soon as you decide to attend graduate school, it’s time to prepare for transitioning from school to your career. It’s important to chart out your path before the emotions surrounding graduation, both excitement and anxiety, begin to kick in.

Plan To Repay Student Loans

The education you gain and the connections you make because of graduate school are powerful investments in your future, and graduate student loans are valuable tools for making this step possible. Right from the start, you should have a repayment plan in place:

  • Research state student loan and employee assistance programs.
  • Pay more than the monthly minimum. The faster you repay the loans, the less you’ll pay overall.
  • Refinance for a better interest rate.

Be careful with this last step. If you make consistent payments, you stand to save a lot of money because of the lower interest rate. On the other hand, you won’t have federal protections if you find it difficult to repay the loan.

Create a Budget

One popular budgeting plan is the 50/30/20 rule. This strategy helps you spend within your means while making progress toward improving your financial situation. Begin by allotting 50 percent of your income toward essentials. These include your student loans, rent, food, utilities, bills, and transportation costs. Next, prioritize savings and investments with 20 percent of your income. This should leave 30 percent of your income for nonessentials.

Clean Up Your Social Media Profiles

Even if you believe your social media profiles are private, it is possible that your embarrassing post from five years ago could crop up in front of your potential boss. The wrong post could really limit your options for employment, so don’t put off cleaning up your profiles. List all of your social media accounts. Try searching for your name on Google and other search engines to find any social media accounts you may have forgotten about.

Next, delete any questionable posts and comments and unfollow any inappropriate accounts. Make sure your profile pictures present the image you want your employers to see. Finally, delete any accounts you aren’t using, and be sure to regularly update your passwords.

Write Up Your Resume

Your resume may be the first impression you make, so a stand-out resume is crucial to your success:

  • Choose a format that is easy to read and quickly draws attention to your best information.  
  • Put your name and contact information at the top where it is quick and easy to identify.
  • Include interpersonal skills in addition to technical abilities. These soft skills are often just as valuable to employers.
  • Use keywords from job listings when adding your job history, skills, certificates, and other qualifications.
  • Include specific numbers and measurements to show your value to previous employers. How did you save your employer money or improve efficiency in your position?

Don’t forget to proofread your resume multiple times and ask a few friends to review it as well.

Look for Job Opportunities

Professional connections are some of the most important things you gain during your time in graduate school. Reach out to these connections as you begin job hunting. Additionally, let all of your friends and family members know that you’re looking for a job. Any one of your contacts could know of a place that needs applicants or who could serve as a reference for you. Build relationships with those people who could lead to new connections.

Look for networking opportunities. The school may host job fairs, conventions, expositions, and similar events to connect students with job representatives. Take your resume with you as you attend.

Reach out to companies even if you don’t know about job openings. Many companies have online applications, making it easy to apply directly. If you don’t see job listings, you can still email or phone the company to talk about upcoming opportunities. Keep an eye on the companies’ social media sites where you can become familiar with the company, gaining insights into their policies and purpose.

Move Forward With Confidence

Moving away from your education years into a fulfilling career can be a satisfying journey, especially if you have planned your route from the beginning. What other steps would you recommend to students?

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