Everyone told me that my college years would go fast, but I never expected it would go this fast. If you’re like me, you doubled your workload during school and took upwards of 18 credits each semester. On top of that, you might have even had some extra credits lying around from advanced placement classes in high school. Whether it’s because of one or both of these things, you’ve now found yourself suddenly graduating from college early. When I graduated a semester early, I was proud of myself, but also scared beyond belief to be entering the “real world.” Now, just five months later, I’m thriving as an actual adult and I’m here to share my wisdom with you early grads. Here are some things you should do after graduating early:
1. Stay organized
Without the order that school brings, it’s easy to become disorganized when managing your real life, so invest in a planner. This’ll help you plan and record dates for interviews, give yourself deadlines for graduate school applications and prep (if you plan on attending), and set goals for yourself. Also, while you’re searching for work and stuck at home, cabin fever can set it in quickly, so make sure to give yourself weekly outings and goals (even if they’re small), like a trip to the grocery store or hanging out with friends at the mall.
2. Apply for your dream job and regular jobs
You’ve got to be realistic about this one. Yes, you may have the right degree for your field, but you may not have a lot of work experience yet, so you’re going to need some build-up jobs to strengthen that resume. You don’t have to necessarily work retail either, look for office jobs that require a BA or BS - anything in a professional working environment will help. Also, know that it’s perfectly okay to not get your dream job right out of college - you’ve got time, don’t worry.
While you’re working to get some money in your pocket and professional work experience under your belt, apply to internships as well. If you can’t work them around your job’s schedule, try for a remote internship instead. I’m a former English major who wants to be a book editor and I’m a part-time bank teller right now, which is adding work experience to my resume, but at the same time, I’m writing for Step Up Magazine remotely to strengthen my publishing and editing skills before I head to graduate school. Don’t give up on what you went to school for if you can’t get a job in your field immediately - take your time saving up cash and building your resume.
3. Stay connected
One of the hardest things about graduating early is missing your friends, especially if your school is hours away from home. You’ve got to stay connected to your friends and not let the distance overwhelm you - putting effort into those relationships you made in your college years will ensure that these friendships will last a lifetime. Try to schedule trips up to see your friends or invite them down to your hometown and always, always engage in the group chat. You’re still a part of the group and they still love you!
4. Keep furthering your education
If there is something that’s stopping you from getting a job in your field, you need to do your best to resolve it. Do some research if you have to- if you need a certification, there are some you can take online for different software or local college classes you can enroll in that can certify you. Keep reading and researching what your dream job requires from you - for example, I want to work in a publishing house, so I’m trying to become familiar with the style guides that they use. If you need to get a master’s degree, start researching schools and what certifications and tests they will need from you (ex. GRE exam). Stay on top of the advancements in your field so you can be the most qualified candidate when you apply again.
Graduating early from college can sound frightening, but if you keep your head up and focus on building your resume for your dream job, you’ll be just fine.
Sarah DeLena is currently studying for her masters in Publishing and Writing at Emerson College. She hopes to become an editor of YA literature, her favorite genre, own at least two golden retrievers, and further the legacy of the Oxford comma.