Tag Archives: post-college

5 Ways to Prepare for Your College Graduation

After four years of late-night cramming sessions, a grueling class schedule, too many term papers to count and lots of hard-core partying, the big day is finally within sight. Graduation! You can hardly wait to toss your cap into the air and start making your mark in the big wide world.

As you count down toward graduation, don’t forget to check off these important tasks you’ll need to tend to before you can get your diploma.

1. Put your papers in order

Don’t celebrate the end of college paperwork just yet! Before graduation, you’ll need to submit an application to graduate. You may also need to officially confer your degree. These steps can differ in each school, so find out what your particular requirements are before the end-of-term rush.

2. Polish your resume, cover letter and portfolio

Hopefully, at this point, you’ll have already written up your resume and cover letter and organized your portfolio. During these last few months in college, take the time to perfect these gateways to the working world. Ask a few friends to read through your resume and cover letter and check them for typos and inconsistencies.  You can also show these documents and your portfolio to a career counselor at your school to ask for professional tips on making them shine.

3. Find a summer job or a paid internship

It isn’t easy to find that first post-college job. But, whether you’ve landed the perfect position for next year or you’re still hunting for a job, the clock starts ticking on that student loan debt as soon as you graduate. If you won’t be starting your new job until fall, or you haven’t found one yet, it’s best to accept a temporary summer job or a paid internship so you have some kind of income to put towards payments.

4. Find a place to live

In the rush to find a job for next year, you may have forgotten about another crucial decision you need to make: Where are you going to live? If you plan on moving back in with mom and dad, you’re good to go. Otherwise, start apartment hunting as early as possible to get the best picks. You can look up rentals in the area on sites like Rent.com, and ApartmentGuide.com.

5. Spend time with your friends

As you tie up the loose ends of your life in college, don’t forget about the people who matter most to you in school. The relationships you form in college can last a lifetime. Make sure you get a few good late nights in with your best buddies before graduation.

Use these last few months of college wisely by making sure you’ve got your post-college life in order, and taking the time to live it up just a little bit more before adulting for real.


How did you prepare for your college graduation? Share your best tips with us in the comments.

How Can I Succeed at my New Job?

Q: I’ve just landed a new job, and I’m a bit nervous about starting. How can I succeed at my new job?

A: Congratulations on your new job! Whether it’s a new position in your current workplace or a new place of employment, this is a very exciting time, but also a little challenging. With the right work practices in place, it can be the start of a successful rung on your career ladder that pays off for years to come.

Here’s what you need to know when starting a new job:

How do I start off at my job?

Starting off on the right foot can help ease the transition and put you on the fast track to success at your new job.

You’ll never have a second chance at that first impression, so be sure to ace that first day on the job. Prepare everything you’ll need the night before, leave extra time for unexpected delays and try to arrive a few minutes early. Be ready to introduce yourself to your new colleagues — now’s not the time to be shy. Practice a short intro ahead of time to make it easier and more natural.

Next, pay close attention to your surroundings during your first week at work. Try to pick up on all the small nuances that can clue you in to the company culture, the work atmosphere and to help you get to know your coworkers better.

Finally, familiarize yourself with company rules and policies as soon as possible. Your manager probably shared most of these with you, but there are some rules you may not know about unless you ask. For example, find out about your new workplace’s social media policy. Some companies don’t let employees use social media during work hours and are strict about not posting anything work-related or unfit for public consumption.

How can I succeed professionally at my new job?

When you begin working in a new place, you’ll need to learn all the ins and outs of your job. Learn all the details of your job responsibilities. Being unclear about what is expected of you can waste valuable work time and lead to miscommunication and hurt feelings.

It’s important to ask questions at your new job. Research shows that new employees perform better when they ask more questions. In addition to bringing you up to speed, asking lots of questions will show your co-workers that you’re ready and willing to learn.

What should I focus on during my first month on the job? 

Once you’ve passed the first week in your new workplace, you’ll likely be more comfortable at your job and know what’s expected of you. By now, you know where to find the best K-cups for the coffee machine and that you’d better greet the front-desk attendant in the morning or you’ll hear about it later.

It’s time to step up your game.

Were you always being held back at your previous job because of personal failings? This is your opportunity to start fresh. During the first month at your new job, concentrate on setting up good work habits. Take some time to identify your primary distractions and negative work habits and then focus on getting rid of them to keep your productivity at peak levels.

Continue to ask questions whenever necessary. There’s no shame in needing help, even when you’ve been at the job for a few weeks or months.

It’s also a good idea to make it a practice of thanking your colleagues for any way they assist you in learning the ropes of your new job.

Finally, push yourself to achieve more than you believed possible at your new job. Don’t be afraid to be overly ambitious. Set high goals and reach for the stars — you may surprise yourself.

What steps should I take after my first few months on the job?

Once you’ve settled into the job, it’s a good idea to take a step back to review your performance. Have you achieved your goals? Have you established a name for yourself in the company?  Some companies will set up a formal 90-day review for all new employees. If not, consider asking your direct supervisor for a quick meeting to discuss your progress.

Best of luck at your new job!

What to Do with Your First Paycheck

As part of the changes you’re gearing up for in the months after you graduate, you’re poised to enter the working world as a long-term employee, perhaps for the first time in your life. As you prepare for this transition, you might have dollar signs dancing in your head while you dream of what you’re going to do with your first paycheck.

Before you start planning a one-in-each-color shopping spree at the mall or a weekend in Vegas, check out our list of responsible things to do with your first paycheck.

Start an emergency fund

Your first step when earning a regular salary should be to start an emergency fund. According to financial experts, it’s best to have 3-6 months’ worth of living expenses socked away in case you are unable to work for any reason. Otherwise, an expensive emergency or surprise layoff can force you into debt that can take years to recover from. When working out a budget, set up a plan for building your emergency fund in as short a time as possible. Once it’s fully funded, you can use that money for other savings.

Open a savings account

If you haven’t already done so, open a savings account at USAgencies Credit Union and start putting away a small amount of money into it each month. There are several schools of thought regarding how much of your monthly income to earmark for savings, with most experts recommending that you set aside 20 percent of your paycheck. If you can’t afford to do that right now, especially as you work on building your emergency fund, it’s still crucial to put away as much as you can, simply to build the savings habit. You can use these savings for long-term goals, like buying a house or a new car within the next few years, and short-term goals, like a summertime getaway or a large purchase, like a new entertainment system.

Start saving for your retirement

Your retirement might still be light-years away, but the sooner you start planning for it, the less you’ll have to put away each month. Plus, you’ll have a bigger nest egg when you quit working.

First, speak to an HR representative at your workplace to ask about a 401(k). Many companies will match your contributions up to a set amount. These funds are not taxed until you withdraw them, so any money you contribute from your paycheck is almost like free money.

If your company doesn’t offer 401(k) contributions, you can also look into opening an IRA on your own.

Make a payment toward your student loan

Before you can claim the rest of your money as your own, you’ll need to make at least the minimum monthly payment on your student loan. If you haven’t started your job immediately after college, you may have already made the first few payments toward your student loan debt. But, whether this is your first payment or not, it’s best to maximize the amount you pay toward debt each month. Keep in mind that student loan companies, like credit card companies, are out to make money. The simplest way for them to do that is to keep you in debt for as long as possible by making it easy to pay only the minimum monthly payment. Beat the system by increasing your payments to the maximum amount you can handle.

Budget wisely

Now that you’ve gotten all of the boring stuff out of the way, you’re free to spend your money as you please. Establish responsible spending habits by setting up a workable budget that incorporates all of your fixed expenses and your non-fixed expenses. With careful planning and an eye toward the future, you can enjoy your new status as a responsible, working adult.


Need help getting started? USAgencies Credit Union is here for you. Connect with us today at info@usacu.org or call/text 503-275-0300.

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