10 Mistakes to Avoid Right Out of College

 After graduating college you are on top of the world and probably had the best four years of your life. You have worked incredibly hard and maybe you feel like taking a few weeks off like Dustin Hoffman in “The Graduate”. You’ve earned it, but once the dust has settled it is time to make your own structure. The following is a collective wisdom of the mistakes to avoid after college.

1. Not Traveling
This free time after college is a gift of expendable time, unless you have a job of course. Three days after graduation a friend and I drove out west on a road trip towards Yellowstone and Olympic National parks. There will be months of looking for the right job for your major, but harness this free time before you are committed a job, a lease, and student debt.

2. Accepting the First Job
People too often settle for a job that doesn’t fit them such as an entry-level position. Job-hunting is an open process and saying “no” is okay. It is also a negotiation and it is better to be tested and experienced instead of accepting the first thing that comes across your desk.

3. Geographically Paralyzed
When hunting for jobs, avoid sticking around a city that doesn’t provide jobs in your industry. Be open to the many possibilities and you may find your dream job if you cast a wide net.

4. To Move or Not to Move Home
Moving home is a tough proposition, but might be a worthy compromise. Living back home should be viewed as temporary until you find a job and are able to pay for your own apartment. However, moving back home may make you dependent on your parents.

5. Dilly-Dallying
While looking for a job, a prospective employer will ask you what you’ve done since graduation. Telling the you’ve been playing video games and laying around doesn’t sound impressive. Go out and network, volunteer, or travel [see mistake 1].

6. Health Insurance-Less
Now that you are done with college things like student loans and health insurance will be things to worry about. Walking around without health insurance makes you a liability and until universal health insurance kicks in 2014, a costly medical bill can set you back a long ways.

7. Avoid the Take-Out Diet
Ordering pizza every night is not a sustainable habit and nor will it work for a budget. In order to save and pay for many debts and payments, cooking in the kitchen would be a good habit to pick up.

8. Peer Comparisons
It is easy to look at your friends and see them on the fast track while you may be mired in entry level. Comparisons are odious. Pay attention to your own goals. Otherwise, your jealousies will cause you mistakes.

9. “I’ll Start Saving Tomorrow.”
Albert Einstein once said that compound interest is “the most powerful force in the world.” It can be any amount as long as it something. Saving while your young will compound your savings, which is not taxed in a 401(k), heavily during the approach towards retirement. Employers often match a contribution as well.

10. Sabotaging Credit
Now, or anytime, is good to start building up your credit. Having a phone and an apartment is a good start. It is advised to take out a credit card and charge regular bills on there, but pay it off every month so that one day you will have a good enough credit history to purchase a house. Avoiding these often made mistakes after college will provide you better legs to walk up the corporate ladder.

7 Responses to 10 Mistakes to Avoid Right Out of College

  1. When I graduated in 2009 the only option I had was too move back home. There were no jobs available it took me 7 months to find an entry level job. I guess things are looking much better now!

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  7. This is a very fitting and authoritative approach of mistakes to avoid. I would add though, many people are undoubtedly forced into accepting the first offer they receive, many will have trouble finding that offer. The negotiating though should continue from that first offer.

    I was offered a position somewhere at reasonable pay level for a job I really thought I would enjoy. Rather than walk away and keep looking, I negotiated. By counter-offering a different wage and benefits package, I got a great job at a level much higher than I would have found elsewhere. If you’re thinking the job doesn’t pay enough and you are going to try somewhere else, it doesn’t hurt to counter-offer.