6, 5, 4, 3, 2 ,1. It’s not a rocket launch. It’s the amount of time new grads have before your very first student loan bill arrives.
“Wait, you mean all of that money I borrowed for school, housing, and food has to be paid back?”
Oh yea. All of it… with interest! For those 44 million + Americans who took out student loans to pay for college, you only have a 6 month grace period to land a job that can support both your new life and your monthly debt payments. The problem? On average, it takes most new graduates much more than 6 months to actually get up-to-par with a salary that can pay for all of their incoming bills. From lack of available work, to having to take an unpaid (or extremely low paying) internship just to get your foot in the door – many of times, “paying your dues” doesn’t account for all of the, “other dues” you’re now obligated to pay back. Below is a month-by-month guide explaining what you can do now to get the most out of your grace period.
Month 1: The Post-Grad Transition
First off, a huge congratulations are in order! You accomplished something truly amazing – and now, you have a degree in something that you are hopefully passionate about! This is your chance to relax, spend time with family, backpack through Europe… you know, all of those fun finding yourself activities. But don’t get too lost jet setting across the globe, because your life and bills will still be waiting for you back home. After you’ve gotten all of the Insta pics and celebrations out of your system, the best thing you can do during your post-grad transition is try and SAVE as much money as you can. This may mean taking a part-time job, moving back in with you folks (which is actually your best bet if this is an option), or getting your first off-campus spot with roommates. It might not be the house on the hill you’ve always dreamed of, but the lower your rent, the better the savings.
Month 2: Make Sure Your Docs Are On Point
Perfect your resume and cover letter like a pro. Don’t just slap something together using a basic word format; put effort into this. The goal of your resume is to get you in the door, and when employers receive stacks of resumes daily, your’s has to stand out.
- Tip #1: Look at samples online of some of the top resumes IN YOUR SPECIFIC FIELD. Each industry has a certain style and buzz words they spark to. See what works and use that as a template.
- Tip #2: Add a professional picture of yourself to the actual doc. When employers can spot a face in a sea of paperwork, they’re more likely to remember you.
- Tip #3: Your “skills” section should go far beyond “proficient in word.” Try to cater your expertise to fit the needs of the specific job description you’re applying for. What matters to them? What can you personally add to this company that no one else can?
Month 3: Clean Up Your Profiles
Sure, the hot beach pics and beer bong vids have gotten you a ton of likes; but if you’re trying to land a professional career, they’re not your best look. Before you put yourself out into the business world, you really need to clean up your profiles online. Here’s the rule of thumb: if your grandma would question your outfit, face gesture or action, either take it down or go private. Employers will look you up and if it’s an image they won’t stand by, you’re probably not getting a call back. After your socials are solid, you also want to create (or update) your Linkedin profile. Linkedin is a great place to connect to people in your desired industry. It is also an awesome platform to search and apply for jobs. Your profile should be as professional as possible (no selfies or revealing clothing). Dress the part. Lose the cropped out party pics; put on a button-up and have a friend take a new photo of you if you have to. Then bullet point your new and improved resume to your profile and start networking.
Month 4: #CBL
If you don’t know what #CBL is yet, better school up. #CBL is a networking strategy known as coffee, breakfast and lunch. The job market isn’t what is used to be; very rarely do job seekers get hired off of a generic career site alone. It’s all about who you know and who you’re connected with. Linkedin is the perfect way to start meeting people, especially if you don’t have a ton of connections in your industry yet. Use your school’s alumni, personal friends, or a common interest group as a starting point. Then message people who are either hiring for, or working in the field you want to be a part of. Don’t just send them a friend request! Send them a personal message. Ask them for a quick call; or better yet, ask them out to… you guessed it: coffee, breakfast, or lunch to talk business. Complement that person on their success and find out how they got to where you want to be. Attend job fairs, community events, alumni gatherings, and get yourself out there to connect and #CBL as much as possible!
Month 5: Get Into The RIGHT Repayment Plan!
Your upcoming student loan payment is right around the corner and the dollar amount due may shock you! In some cases, this payment can be nearly as much (if not higher) then your rent! Whoa. But don’t panic! There are programs offered by The Department of Education to help federal student loan borrowers either FORGIVE, REDUCE, DEFER or STOP YOUR MONTHLY PAYMENTS altogether for those who qualify. Hopefully you have a job by now; but especially if you don’t, whatever you do: DON’T RISK A DEFAULT by not paying! Defaults can drastically damage your credit and could even lead to wage garnishments. Yikes! Know your budget, see how much you can reasonably afford and get into the right repayment plan to fit your needs. To find out which repayment programs you qualify for, click below to have a Docupop expert review your personalized options.
Month 6: Pay The Piper
Time to pay up! 6 months after graduation, you are obligated to start paying off your student loan debt. If you have a good paying job, this shouldn’t be a problem – but, if you’re like most of us, landing that 6 figure salary right out of college is still a few steps away. If you can’t afford your payments – or, if you need help better understating your options, Docupop is standing by to help.
By following the 6 post-grad steps above, hopefully you will be #adulting like a pro in no time! At least until you have to start choosing your 401k options; but that’s another blog.
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