First, on behalf of everyone at The Sash Company, we would like to formally congratulate you on this achievement. What an incredible milestone this marks in your life. And you did it. You graduated!
We’ve created custom graduation stoles and cords for over 20 years, and we have had the privilege of knowing that our cords have been with millions of students as they finally graduate.
And this is your turn. You studied late nights, you put projects together the night before, you wrote more papers or did more math than you have ever done in your life, you spent years honing your skills and applying new knowledge, and now you’re here. You deserve all the happiness and success that is coming your way.
Now the big question becomes, what’s next? After you graduate, what are you supposed to do? You’ve been spending all this time working hard on getting your degree, and many of you simply didn’t have the time to even think about what’s next for you.
Don’t worry, you’re not alone.
With that in mind, we wanted to provide a little insight into what you should consider doing after graduation. This is advice that we would have given ourselves years ago, or advice that we give our children today.
Today's hustle culture influencers would likely not agree with this point. We understand how important it is to push yourself to start your new life, or your career right away.
The idea of taking a gap year, or a few months to travel may seem a little scary at first. After all, while you’re traveling, your peers are hard at work, finding new jobs and starting their careers.
But we don’t always see it that way.
The truth is that there are a number of really important reasons to take some time off. And we have outlined the reasons why here:
“The wise rest at least as hard as they work.” — Mokokoma Mokhonoana
It took you years of hard work to reach this point. There’s metaphorical sweat and tears on that diploma of yours. It represents the late night and countless hours of hard work you have endured over the past few years.
It’s okay to take some time to reset and recharge. If you hit the ground running when you’re not ready, you increase the likelihood of burnout. Sure your peers may get a few extra months or a year ahead of you, but they may also reach burnout a lot faster, and the recovery from burnout may take years.
“To get away from one’s working environment is, in a sense, to get away from one’s self; and this is often the chief advantage of travel and change.” – Charles Horton Cooley
If there’s one thing we could tell our younger selves, it would be to not underestimate the future. The truth is you have no idea what will and will not change, and influence the journey of your life.
Taking time off may lead to unexpected opportunities, meetings with new and exciting people, and a whole new perspective on your future.
“No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it's not the same river and he's not the same man.” - Heraclitus
Returning from a year off could be the very thing that differentiates you from your peers. When hiring managers and HR looks for candidates in their early 20s, they will see lots of young people with degrees.
They’ll see internships, recommendations, and a list of achievements on each entry-level resume.
So how can you differentiate yourself from the rest of the resumes in that never-ending pile? You can show life experience. Showing volunteer work in other countries, or explaining the gap in your resume was for travel or time with your family, may in fact show some character. It’s all about how you frame your experience.
We know that the last thing you want to do is network. It may even conjure up images of you in a formal outfit, shaking hands with people that have large smiles on their faces while you navigate a conference room floor swapping small snack plates with cocktails from time to time.
It doesn’t sound fun.
But networking will be the best thing you can start doing after you graduate. It’s not what you know, it’s who you know, so developing personal relationships with people in your industry will make ALL the difference.
And not all networking is created equal. Let’s discuss.
“Networking is a lot like nutrition and fitness: we know what to do, the hard part is making it a top priority.” - Herminia Ibarra
Networking and industry events are a great way to meet people who will in fact help you later on in your career or journey because they are there to mingle and to meet.
But you don’t HAVE to go to these events to meet people. Consider anyone you meet in your space as having something interesting to say and be open to learning at all times.
If you immerse yourself fully in your chosen career path then you will likely start to see that your peers typically frequent the same places, or are in specific parts of the country.
Just being there, and being open to meeting new people can make all the difference.
“By not tweeting you’re tweeting. You’re sending a message.” - Unknown
Don’t listen to those who don’t get it. Social media is in fact networking.
Comment on posts around your chosen industry or career path. Follow the big names and comment on posts on their content. Put out your own content and update your bio. Add relevant hashtags to your posts. Make it feel natural.
Update your LinkedIn profile, but also your Instagram and Facebook profiles. Reach out to other people in your field and start building relationships.
“Everyone should build their network before they need it.” - Dave Delaney
Building relationships can start at your first real job. Even if you are building relationships with people on different teams, or people who you think may not help you on your career path, our one piece of advice is to treat everyone like you can learn from them.
You can ask anyone in their 50s or 60s just how many unexpected people got them their biggest breaks in life, and many will tell you that those breaks come from unexpected people. Build your network with EVERYONE you meet.
“In my whole life, I have known no wise people (over a broad subject matter area) who did not read all the time — none, zero.” – Charlie Munger
Never, ever, stop learning. If you want to be the best at what you do, or even if you just want to earn lots of money for your talents, then you have to keep on learning all the time.
You have to know the latest and greatest techniques and tools of the trade, and you must always understand just how your career is changing at all times.
Keep an open mind and keep learning all the time. This new education can come in many forms.
Every career, job, trade, hobby, and skill that can be mastered has an online community that’s sharing their ideas and advice.
You can find just about anything on Tik Tok, YouTube, or even communities like Reddit and there are so many resources there just waiting to be found and used.
Okay, so you want to be done with textbooks already. Why on Earth would you sign up for another class or workshop after graduation?
Because there is so much more to your chosen career than can be fit into a 4-year degree. And there are so many people that have decades of experience that are teaching these courses. The world is your oyster!
“Invest for the long haul. Don’t get too greedy and don’t get too scared.” - Shelby M.C. Davis
If there is one thing that must high schools and colleges skip over, it’s personal finance. And what a shame, because many students have to learn the hard way. Credit card debt, frivolous spending, zero investments, and no savings account, is not a good place to find yourself later in life.
So start now and begin creating better financial habits after college.
Start putting 10% of your money into a savings account. These days you can even have the bank set up automatic transfers to savings accounts so you don’t even have a chance to spend that money. Be sure to leave it where it lies and only use it for big purchases like homes, cars, and eventually your retirement.
Credit card debt, car loans, and other forms of debt can be debilitating once they have started accruing. You should do your best to avoid debt when possible and try living within your means from an early age. You will earn more, so be patient. You can buy that brand new car in a few years with cash.
These days you can invest in your future with just a few clicks on your smartphone. Set up a personal account with Vanguard and automate deposits every month. For now, pick the top ETF funds to invest in and leave it on autopilot. These ETFs follow the trend of the economy and return about 8% every year on average through a long enough timeline. It’s simple couch potato investing for beginners.
And that concludes our advice for college graduates. Overall, the most important thing is to be true to yourself and to follow your passions. It might not be a straightforward path, but with hard work and dedication, you can achieve your goals and build a fulfilling career. We wish you many happy years of success ahead.
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