I have been at my first full-time, legit, salaried job outside of college for a few weeks now, and I absolutely love it! The small time away from school has already shown me what I regret a little about my college career. If you’re a recent grad like me, maybe some things on this list will resonate with you. And if you’re still slogging through college, take a peek through this list. Maybe my regrets don’t have to be yours.
It’s hard to make time for what you love, but seriously, instead of vegging out on Facebook for 15 minutes as a “break,” why didn’t I read for fun? I read now during my lunch breaks, and it’s amazing how refreshed I feel after just 25 minutes. Not to mention, during my last semester in school, I discovered that I could read while power walking on the treadmill. It made exercising much more fun. I wish I’d made more time for that in school rather than allotting little pockets of time for social media.
Taken a Finance Course
Enrolling for benefits can be complicated, and my new colleagues and I were discussing how frustrating it was to determine what the best options would be. So many HR people do their best to make it easy, but the fact of the matter is, I know people who are in their late 20s and still don’t know the difference between a 401(k) and a Roth IRA account. I think making time for a money-management elective would have prepared me more for being out of school.
In college, I spent a lot of time chasing internship postings and prepping résumés—and that was a good thing. However, when I got to the final round of job interviews, I had no idea how to negotiate a salary. I was fortunate enough to have a good friend in the school’s career center to go to for help, but it made me realize how little I had considered the topic before. While it’s important to try to get your foot in the door, make sure you have a salary in mind when you’re going in for those later interviews.
Built Up a Professional Wardrobe
I always thought I dressed pretty well for a college student—my appearance was usually devoid of sweatpants at least. But it took until I was in an office for a week to realize that I didn’t have that many outfits that made the visual transition from a college student to an office worker. Had I focused some of my extra spending money on building a nice wardrobe instead of restaurants and movies, it would have cut down my shopping trip a week after I started.
Spent Less on Coffee
Speaking of spending money…When I glanced over my receipts from last fall, the bulk of them came from coffee dates. (And when you’re making minimum wage, that money disappears quickly!) So maybe instead of meeting a friend at a coffee shop, consider staying in. Inviting friends over to your dorm room and making them coffee or tea is a much more intimate (and less expensive) way to hang out.
For you recent grads, what do you wish you’d done differently in school?