Monday Morning Quarter-Buck: Three Tips for the new Graduates


by Matt Fizell
Madison, Wisconsin

First things first, congratulations to all of the recent college graduates! It is such an incredible achievement to have put in time and effort over the past 2 to 4 years and finally being in a position to step into the workforce.  Here are a few quick tips for your next few years as you spread your wings and begin to soar into your career.

Tip #1:  It is completely OK to be freaked out about your student loans!

And maybe even a bigger tip… remember that you are not alone in this.  With the national student debt numbers climbing to the $1.5 Trillion mark this past year, this is a now, the normal fact of life after pursuing higher education.  While you may feel pressured to pay off your debt immediately, it is important to take a deep breath, and do some research about the nature of your loans along with what repayment options are available to you.  Some free resources which can help you take the first steps to conquering your student loans can be found at Student Loan Tips by Becky Partridge or watch this video by Amy Irvine.

 Tip #2: Don’t feel forced to marry your first employer

 Starting your career is just like starting college… you have an idea of what you want to do, but it will take some time to find what you truly enjoy about what you are doing each day.  Many studies have shown that 75% of college students change their major during college, and statistics also show 45% of college graduates will stay with their first employer for less than two years.  Landing your first job out of college is certainly an exciting time, but be conscious of what you like/dislike as you progress through your early years and use those bits of knowledge to decide whether or not it is truly as great of a fit you originally thought.  25% of people have had 5 different jobs by the time they reach age 35, this is due to many factors such as limited growth opportunities, poor company culture, and discovering your true calling is in a different field. Taking control of your budget (and those student loans mentioned above) can help you have the freedom to find your true calling at an earlier age. 

 Tip #3:  Failures will be your greatest success

 Life isn’t a college exam, it’s about learning how to handle the bumps, scrapes, and bruises you encounter along your journey to financial independence and ultimately your retirement.  There will be tough days no matter where you go, but it is about finding what is/isn’t working for you as you progress in your career and using those lessons to craft your dream career path. Cool offices, quirky employee benefits like “Free beer Friday”, and company paid travel will only be fun for so long. Rest assured, it is ok to have made the “wrong” choice in your first career, but view that as a tool to find what you do truly enjoy… and maybe that first job will be the right company, just not the perfect position for you.  Have the confidence to find the right fit, and don’t feel ashamed making the switch when you have outgrown the position you were so excited about right after college.