If you’ve recently finished higher education, you’re probably wondering what next? It may feel unusual to suddenly have this much freedom, but you might also feel a slight sense of pressure to quickly start looking for your first graduate job. In this article, we’ll provide a little helpful advice for anyone entering the world of work after college or university.

Your First Job is Just the First Step

In the past, a higher education qualification often meant you could walk into a job offering a good amount of responsibility and a generous salary. Nowadays, with such a large number of individuals having degrees and similar academic accolades, there is a lot more competition. For this reason, as a graduate, you’ll be expected to start relatively low and work your way up, unless you’ve got some great contacts. Don’t be disheartened, however. Make the most of all experiences available within your place of employment, show willingness to learn and work diligently. Your first job will pave the way for greater successes to come.

Stay on Top of Your Finances

Many graduates experience a brief period of financial instability after leaving education. Whether you’ve already been in a fortunate enough position to pay off all of your costs or you’ve needed to take out both undergraduate and graduate school loans for an MA, MS, MFA, MBA or even a doctorate, keeping a careful handle on your money can afford you more freedom. Why not start a savings account or consider taking a second job on the side in order to accumulate a financial cushion?

Make the Most of Your Contacts

Building a great skill set and collecting qualifications are both great ways to make yourself a desirable employee and further your career. However, access to many opportunities can also boil down to who you know. Ask around your friends, fellow graduates and even your tutors to discover new opportunities and see what advice you can gather from them. When applying for a job, do a little investigation to find out whether you know anyone who already works for the firm in question, then ask them for a few pointers or even a recommendation. It can make all the difference.

Be Flexible

Making a five-year plan can definitely help to keep you on track, but don’t make it too specific. You need some wiggle room. You may find yourself reaching some milestones quicker than expected, while others will become irrelevant. If the perfect job doesn’t crop up at the right time, don’t shy away from taking on something else that will still help you develop relevant skills. Be prepared to make some concessions and compromises. Decide in advance whether you’d be willing to relocate for the right role, or how much evening or weekend work you might agree to. While it’s important to stick to your priorities, saying “yes” a little more may help you to grow.

Reserve Time for Hobbies and Relaxation

Burnout is a very real threat to ambitious newcomers in almost any field. Be realistic about what you can achieve within a given timescale and make sure you keep certain areas of your calendar free for leisure activities, holidays, hobbies and relaxation. This is great for your mental and physical health and will help you to remain a productive, well-adjusted, sociable person.

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