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Lauren Marinigh

Don’t Panic! Here’s The Graduation Emergency Plan

You’re so over pulling all-nighters, cramming for exams, and being broke as a joke. But now you’re starting to wonder why you wanted it to go by so fast.

Although graduation is your official entry into adulthood, it can make you feel more like a child than anything else. You walk across the stage to accept your expensive piece of paper and into the world feeling disoriented, and confused on what’s next.

You dreamed that your ‘what’s next’ would be landing your dream job, but now you’re realizing that it’s easier said than done. Where do you even start? This is where an emergency plan will help guide you through the baby steps to adulthood. Because after all, who says you need to rush into it?

Hot Tip: If you are just starting out or are part-way through school, check out this blog to  help you with budgeting (to avoid being overwhelmed with debt when you graduate, thus avoiding a ‘Post-Graduation Emergency Plan scenario) and this blog with some smart ways to help pay for school.

Step 1: Figure Out Where The Money Will Come From

Maybe you weren’t riding on your student loans and parents’ bank accounts for the last four years. But for those of us who were, it’s time to figure out how you’re going to support yourself.

If you don’t have the luxury of moving back home while you figure out your plan, finding a part-time job and organizing your finances is probably in order. Figure out what it costs you to survive and determine what your source of income will be to help make ends meet. Remember, weekly bar nights aren’t a mandatory expense anymore.

Don’t forget that you’ll probably need to start paying those student loans back not too long after graduation. Figuring out a plan of attack, and thinking ahead will make starting your repayments less dramatic. For some grads, debt consolidation is a good option. Basically what it does is group all those dreaded bills you owe (credit cards, loans, etc.) and put them in one place, making it easier to manage. The big idea is that you can make one regular payment, at a low interest rate on all of your debt.  This approach is much easier than making multiple payments throughout the month for loans that may have different and possibly much higher interest rates.

Figuring out your expenses can be a huge dose of reality. If you can’t find full-time work right away, you may need to take multiple part-time jobs to help make ends meet. This is a critical step in ensuring you don’t end up living in your parent’s basement for the rest of your life.

Step 2: Make Your LinkedIn Profile Shine

LinkedIn is a powerful tool for job hunting and recruiters looking for candidates, so it’s time to wipe off the dust on your profile and make it shine (or set one up in the first place). Your LinkedIn should at least be a complement to your resume, and will probably be the first thing employers search for when they punch your name into Google.

Take the time to completely fill out each section. This means not just writing your job titles and providing no context. Include a summary that outlines your experience, what you are looking for, and don’t be afraid to add in a bit of your personality. Volunteer experience, certifications and courses you took in school can also go a long way, as well as anything else that could be valuable for potential employers.

Recruiters will look for potential applicants by searching for things that are on your profile, so make sure everything they’ll need is there.

Step 3: Optimize Your Resume

Take the information you put on your LinkedIn profile and create/update your resume. Your LinkedIn profile will include much more information than your resume, and as a new grad, your resume should only be one page. Take the highlights and the need-to-knows from your LinkedIn and add them to your resume. Also be sure to include a link to your LinkedIn profile on your resume.

Your resume will change with the positions you are applying to, but having a basic template to work off of will allow you to apply quicker when new opportunities come up.

For more tips on creating the perfect resume, check out this blog post.

Step 4: Build A Portfolio

My professional website has landed me in front of more professionals and recruiters than anything else. Take some time to build a website that displays what you are capable of doing. Include samples of work from school projects or assignments, and update these as you gain real world experience.

When just starting out, a resume can get lost in a pile of hundreds of others and most likely dropped into a resume database, so having something more can be what gets your foot in the door. Having an online portfolio helps you to easily share the link everywhere that potential employers or contacts may find you.

Hot Tip: Keep your portfolio constantly updated even after you land a job. You never know who may stumble upon it and what can come from it, even if you aren’t looking for a new opportunity.

Step 5: Make New Friends

As much as we’d all love to sit behind our computers, update our LinkedIn and resume and pray that something comes our way, getting yourself out there to networking events, or inviting professionals in the industry out for coffee can open up a lot of doors.

LinkedIn can be a good place to find and make connections, and platforms like Ten Thousand Coffees, allows you to invite professionals out for a coffee to pick their brains.

If you’re attending networking events (which we suggest you do), make sure you’re getting business cards of the connections you make. This way, you can follow up with your new connections after meeting them without depending on them to reach out to you.

Lastly, look into the people you may already have in your network. Think about teachers you’ve had in the past, family friends, or anyone who may be able to provide you with insight. You never know who knows who, and it never hurts to ask.

Check out this Networking 101 guide to help get you started.

Step 6: Get Off Your Butt And Get Involved

You’re working part-time to pay the bills, but that’s not giving you the experience you’re looking for or the opportunities to meet people within the industry. This is where volunteering, job shadowing or interning can be of value.

Drag yourself off the couch, and put yourself out there. Find out what local events are happening, and see how you can get involved or help out. Reach out to some of your new connections (you read Step 5, right?), and see if they would let you job shadow them for a few hours. These opportunities will add experience to your resume, but they’ll also get you in front of new connections.

No one said you had to jump into ‘adulting’ with a full-time career the day you graduate. There’s no harm in taking some time to get your life in order to help you figure out what’s next.

Win One of 5 CIBC Collector’s Grad Coins from SLN

What’s got you most worried about post-grad life? Leave us a comment through our flash contest page and we’ll enter you for a chance to win one of 5 CIBC collector’s Grad Coins from SLN.

General information not about CIBC Financial products is provided for your reference and interest only. The above content is intended only to provide a summary and general overview on matters of interest and is not a substitute for, and should not be construed as the advice of an experienced professional. CIBC does not guarantee the currency, accuracy, applicability or completeness of this content.

No purchase necessary. Open to legal residents of Canada 16+. Contest closes at 11:59:59 PM ET on June 14, 2016. There are five (5) prizes available. Estimated retail value of each prize is $59.99 CAD. Odds of winning depend on number of entries received. All amounts in these Rules are in Canadian dollars. Skill testing question required. Full contest rules available here. 

Lauren Marinigh

Lauren is a Sheridan College graduate now working in social media marketing... yes, she gets paid to Tweet. When she's not living in the social media realm, she's off traveling the world and writing about it on her travel blog.