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When and How to Prepare for Life After College Graduation

Wondering what to do after college? Not sure when or even how to start planning for life after graduation? Many students have an idea of what they want their future to look like. But seeing that future slowly begin to approach can be scary. Every college student eventually has to prepare for entering the “real world.” It’s exciting but also intimidating. With early planning and time to consider your options, students can have a smoother transition into post-undergraduate life.

The Junior Year Jumpstart

Just like juniors in high school should start planning for college, junior year in college should mark the start of post-college planning. That gives students a solid two years to start getting everything in order for a successful post-college start. Planning early gives students plenty of time to identify goals, gain experience, consider options, and create a realistic timeframe for achieving them.

Beginning junior year, students should:

Take On Internships

Internships and job shadowing opportunities provide valuable hands-on experience and first-hand industry insight. While some degree programs may require an internship, all students should take advantage of these opportunities beginning their junior year. This way, students can explore various career options, learn more about work environments, and gain a better understanding of what they want to pursue after graduation. Internship experience and assignments can be included in resumes and portfolios, giving students an edge when applying for jobs.

Work With Career Services

Throughout junior and senior years, students should become routine visitors to Career Services. Career Services is a vital tool for students to take advantage of as they prepare to enter the workforce or consider furthering their education. They work with students to improve students’ soft skills, interviewing abilities, and resume-building, among other things. They often coordinate with local employers for on-site and off-campus visits, job fairs, and even graduate school information sessions.

Build Your Network

Forming connections with industry professionals and mentors can significantly help students as they prepare to transition into post-college life. Whether it’s at an internship, through a job fair, networking events, or with a mentor, students should prioritize building professional relationships with individuals who have experience in their desired field. Networking opportunities offer students insight into what skills are needed in the industry, establish a student’s personal brand and reputation, or even lead to potential employment.

Learn About Loan Repayment Options

Federal and private loans are a looming stressor for students as they plan to exit college. Students have a six-month grace period with no payments required following graduation. Once that period ends, loan payments will kick in and students will be responsible for them, unless they are actively enrolled in a graduate degree program. Federal and private loans operate differently, including repayment plans. Students should speak with the Villa Financial Aid office to discuss their options for repayment and work with their loan company to settle upon payment plans before the grace period ends.

Talk With a Counselor

When the pressure of graduation builds, it’s important for students to have access to support. Villa’s Care Center offers free counseling services with qualified professionals to ensure that students have a healthy outlet to process their feelings. Counseling services focus on emotional well-being and help students develop coping strategies.