Tips from an Orange County Tutor: 6 Things to do Just After Grad School
When students finish grad school, they go through a huge transition that often isn’t recognized. Being a full-time student, often studying up to 60 hours per week, is very different from holding a standard 8 – 5 job. Most grad students don’t have much of a work-life balance but rather spend the majority of their time in the lab or library. Although many will start a job almost right away, quite a few will need some time to search for a job in their field. Post-baccalaureate degrees are specialized after all, and it can take the time to find the perfect career fit. To adjust to a post-education routine, there are few things students can do just after grad school.
1. Get a transition job
Recent grads in highly specialized fields may not be able to find a long-term position immediately. However, finances are always an issue for grad students, and it’s important to locate a transition job as soon as possible. Jobs that are in some way related to the student’s field of study will be more desirable as they can successfully beef up a resume. In many cases, the salary for these jobs isn’t any higher than a standard part-time job, but it will help a recent grad get their foot in the door.
2. Focus on student loan payments
As soon as a student has officially graduated their student loan payments come due. It’s important to organize how these loans will be paid back and in what increments so that a recent graduate has enough money to make ends meet while focusing on a thorough career search. Some companies will help a student pay back their loans if they take a “hardship” position and some loans can be deferred for a short period. It’s important for students to calculate their loan payments into their budget when they are choosing a career and a place to live (“5 Things to Consider if you are Applying to Graduate School”).
3. Organize a long-term career search
While most students will have to focus on finding a short-term job, they should also spend a fair amount of time organizing a long-term career search. Graduates considering working in academia or research will need to fill out extensive applications and gather numerous recommendations and references. Graduates working outside of academia will still have a substantial job hunt, but the specifics will vary from field to field. It’s important to organize this sooner rather than later.
4. Find a work-life balance
Most grad students study and research the majority of their waking hours. People can only do this for so long, so it’s important to resume a work-life balance after graduation. This means putting in a good eight hours working but also reconnecting with friends and family and simply enjoying some free time or a hobby. Successful employees will know how to relax and have a clear head for the work day that lies ahead (READ: “What to do between undergrad and grad school”) .
5. Maintain academic connections
Although students will be leaving campus, it’s really important for them to maintain any academic connections they have made over the years. The network of professors, student colleagues, and teaching assistants are all valuable resources when it comes to job search and recommendation. Even if a student moved away for a career position, it’s important to keep in touch because they never know when those connections will be most valuable.
6. Be creative
Specialized skills that come with a graduate degree are extremely helpful when a person finds the right career position. However, specialized jobs can be harder to find than ones that align to a broader set of skills. Recent grads are encouraged to be creative and think outside the box. Is there a position that they hadn’t considered but might be great at? If they moved out of their area would they have a better chance of gainful employment? Many students have a specific idea of what their first professional job will be while they’re studying but after graduation, it’s important to be flexible especially when working on building a resume.
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