Today’s collaborative post should hit home for a lot of young professionals like me out there. We’re taught quite a bit in grade school and college, but tips like these aren’t often shared with us. I hope they help y’all the way they helped me!
You’ve just finished college and suddenly you find yourself thrust into the “real world.” Let’s face it, the real world can be a confusing place for young professionals. You’re expected to navigate rent payments, living away from home, and even a new career all at once. Plus, when you mix in the unique challenges of this generation (I’m looking at you student loans and competitive job market!) it’s downright intimidating.
This survival guide will share some of the most important things you need to know about becoming a thriving professional in today’s world. Hint: it’s not as scary as it sounds. As long as you have passion, you’re willing to work hard, and the right pair of shoes, you can do just about anything.
Be an Entrepreneur
Today, a college degree alone won’t cut it. I know, I know, we were all raised on the line that college would get us so much farther in life. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 86 percent of Bachelor Degree holders between 25 and 34 are employed while only 72 percent of high school graduates in the same age group are employed.
While it’s clear your Bachelors will help you meet the requirements for higher paying careers, don’t fall for thinking it’s an easy ticket into a job you love. Thanks to the gig economy, young professionals now have more opportunities than ever before.
From freelancing to blogging to consulting, you don’t have to follow the traditional 9-to-5 path anymore. This is good news since so many Millennials are looking for new ways to stay passionate about their careers. So, don’t be afraid to be an entrepreneur. Striking it out on your own might actually be your best chance of success in a world where there are no guarantees.
Refresh Your Wardrobe
One thing they should teach in college is how to dress for your first “real job.” Even if you follow the tip above and start your own business in some capacity, you’ll still be expected to dress the part from time to time. What even does business casual mean nowadays?
Unless you work for a trendy tech startup, you’ll likely need to invest in a new wardrobe. The right clothes can help you stand out to supervisors, plus they just feel better. It’s time to retire your college staples and find new picks that suit your new chapter in life. No, that doesn’t mean you have to dress like your mom, but it does mean a few upgrades.
You can’t go wrong with a few pairs of black and navy slacks, a business dress, and a tailored blazer. Don’t be afraid to show your style, but don’t overdo it. This doesn’t just extend to your time in the boardroom. Jerseys are perfect for cooler weather when you’re out on the town, and they keep you from feeling too mature. As the saying goes, dress for the job you want not the one you have.
Create Strong Money Habits
Another thing Millennials and young professionals aren’t so great at is money. Blame student loan debt and youth all you want, but we have some serious problems. Only 22 percent of Millennials are debt free, and most of that debt is consumer debt (AKA credit cards).
Even if you have some debt already, make a point to form a healthy relationship with money. Avoid credit cards which carry high-interest rates, focus on building your credit early, and educate yourself about financial literacy. That doesn’t mean you need to become an overnight stock market success (unless that’s possible, then go for it!) but it does mean learning more about banking, protecting your credit, and staying out of debt.
Make a Plan
Planning might not be glamorous, but it’s a must. If you’re in a place where you don’t know what to expect from the next five years, the future is a daunting place. Create a five-year plan for yourself. This can include career goals, personal goals, and money goals.
Start simple and be realistic. Maybe you’re just starting your entry-level job. You want to stay with this position for a year to gain experience, then you’ll hunt for a position that better fits your passions. From there, you’ll continue to save until you have a down payment for a house. This is a solid five-year plan that allows for growth and change without being too strict.
Ask yourself where you want to be and where you can reasonably be. While you probably won’t buy a mansion in the next few years, you should have an idea of what you want from your career and life. Having this figured out, even on a basic level, will help you communicate your needs with your employer. You’ll look like you really have your life together.
Find Your Success
As a young professional today, there’s a lot to worry about. The job market is a competitive place, housing prices are rising, and we’re all suffering under a mass of student loan debt. However, we’re also bright, ambitious young people with big plans for ourselves and our world.
Find your own success, whether that means following the traditional path of 9-to-5 work or building your own side hustle in your free time. There are no guarantees, but that means there’s more room to be creative and build a career you really love. Now get out there and make it happen.
Written by Ashley Lipman
Content marketing specialist
Ashley is an award-winning writer who discovered her passion in providing creative solutions for building brands online. Since her first high school award in Creative Writing, she continues to deliver awesome content through various niches.