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What to do after college

Congratulations! You’ve worked so hard for this moment. Graduating from college is a great first step to building your future, but now what? We’ve got strategies to help you land that first job and establish healthy money habits.

Prepare for your job search

  • Take advantage of college resources. Make an appointment with the career center on campus. Their resources can help you identify what’s important in your career planning, pinpointing specific companies or types of jobs you might like to target in your search. 
  • Consider an internship. Think of it like a trial run. You’ll gain experience for your resume while confirming the company or role is a good fit for you.  
  • Kick-start your search. Attend job fairs hosted by your college and create an online career profile like LinkedIn® to get noticed by recruiters. These are great ways to socialize your resume with multiple companies at once. 
  • Start building your network. Look to your professors, alumni groups, professional affiliations, and even your friend’s parents or relatives that work in the industries you’re considering. Personal connections can often help lead you to job openings and possibly a first interview.  
Need more help with your job search? Check out our Jobs and career planning tips and resources—including assistance with resumes, cover letters, interviewing, and more. 

Assess your financial needs post-graduation

  • Create a budget. You’ll want to include your essential expenses (housing, utilities, car payment, etc.), student loan payments, and non-essential expenses (clothes, gym memberships, streaming subscriptions, etc.). Knowing what you spend each month can help you adjust your expenses when necessary to keep your long-term goals on track.  
  • Build an emergency fund. Start small and work toward saving at least 3–6 months’ worth of essential expenses. 
  • Find an apartment. You may need to move out of student housing. With your budget in mind pick a city or neighborhood and check out the many online resources. Be sure to compare the amenities, some apartments include electricity, water, or cable in the rent.  
  • Buy or save for a first car. Consider keeping the total cost of your car to 15% or less of your after-tax monthly income—that includes monthly payments, gas, maintenance, and insurance. For more tips and info, see our Car-buying guidelines
  • Evaluate healthcare insurance options. You can usually stay on your parent’s plan as a dependent until you turn 26—check with the employer as some states and plans have different rules. However, once you have a full-time job it might make sense to sign up for health insurance through your own plan—compare the coverage, out-of-pocket expenses, and monthly costs to help you decide. 
Retirement probably feels years away, but it’s never too early to think about your long-term goals. Once you’ve secured your first job, you’ll want to start exploring your retirement savings options. Take advantage of company benefits, like company match. This will help you set a great foundation for your savings goals—now and in the future. 

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