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The Ultimate Guide To What To Do Once You Graduate College

The Ultimate Guide To What To Do Once You Graduate College

You graduated college? This is it. Congratulations! Now what?

Graduating college is a major milestone for many young adults because it represents the final leap into adulthood, but what’s next after college?

This is a question that many recent graduates ask themselves and struggle to find the answer. Should you start work or do more school? Should you get a job or travel the world for a bit? Should you stay in your local city or move away? Should you start a business?

Society has a prescription for young adults when it comes to figuring out what they want to do in life:  Go to college, get a high-paying job with competitive salary and benefits, climb the ladder, buy a house, retire at 65.

The only problem with this is that it doesn’t guarantee true happiness and fulfillment.

Your early 20s are a time to experiment, to get to know more about yourself, and to figure out the kind of person you want to become.

It’s ok if you don’t know what the next step is. What’s not ok is choosing a path that you feel pressed into because of what society expects of you. If you are not sure of what to do next, then this is a perfect time to develop an intentional experimentation mindset where every experiment takes you closer to your true purpose and interests. Intentional experimentation is all about experimenting with a variety of opportunities. These experiments help you know more about yourself and find the right fit.

If you are struggling with figuring out your next step after college, here are a few options that you might want to consider:

Graduate School

This is a very personal decision and there’s no definitive right or wrong answer.

Graduate school is for you if:

  • You are clear on the field of study you want to pursue and have the time to commit to it.

  • Your employer pays for it.

  • You have joint undergrad and graduate school programs.

  • You have at least 2 years of work experience in your chosen field.

Graduate school is not for you if:

  • You are not clear on your field of study.

  • You don’t have the time to commit to a graduate program.

  • You want to get more experience under your curriculum to increase your admission chances and have a better learning experience.

  • You have other financial priorities.

  • You are exhausted and need a break from academic settings.

  • You just want to avoid the real world and prolong your “student” status.

  • You are being pressured by family, friends, or society.

What to do if you decide you want to apply to graduate school?

  • Before you apply, decide your professional goals and determine what you should study.

  • Research institutions and programs of study. Talk to experts in your chosen field of study and those who are attending the school and programs that interest you. Find out about admission requirements, tests, deadlines, financial aid, etc.

  • Visit potential schools, if possible.

  • Register and prepare for admission tests.

  • Look into scholarships, fellowships, or loan programs that can help finance graduate school.

  • If you are studying abroad, you might need to have your transcripts translated.

  • Draft your statement of purpose and application essays.

  • Request letters of recommendation.

  • Don’t submit your application unless you have prepared in advanced, done proper research, and have compiled all required documentation.

Searching for Jobs or Internship

It’s important to keep in mind that while getting a job or internship helps in building your resume and acquiring new skills, it can also have negative consequences if not done properly. It’s not about getting just any job or internship but about matching your skills, interests, and passions to meaningful opportunities.

Searching for jobs or internships is for you if:

  • You want to get work experience in your chosen field.

  • You are clear on the career path you want to pursue and want to experiment with different job opportunities.

  • You are not comfortable with going on your own and starting your own business.

  • You want to be independent and start earning your own money.

  • You want to improve your curriculum for graduate school.

Searching for jobs or internships is not for you if:

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  • You want to take time off to explore and get to know more about yourself.

  • You want to start a business.

  • You are not interested in joining the workforce anytime soon.

  • You don’t know what work ethic means.

What to do if you decide to search for jobs or internships?

  • Use your school’s career services office.

  • Join a professional development or industry specific group.

  • Create and optimize a LinkedIn profile.

  • Showcase your skills with an online portfolio.

  • Check out career fairs.

Traveling

Traveling is one of those things that if done right, it can completely change your life exposing you to new opportunities that might have not been in your perspective before. A lot of adults wish they had traveled when they were younger before entering the workforce. That’s because once work starts, in most places you only get 2-weeks out of the year to travel and that’s not enough time if you really want to travel and explore different cultures.

Traveling could be for you if:

  • You are not sure of the path you want to take in your personal and professional life and want to take some time off to travel and get to know more about yourself.

  • You want to take some time to volunteer and help others less privileged than you.

  • You have minimum financial obligations.

Traveling is not for you if:

  • You think traveling is about partying and getting drunk in different places. If this is your mentality, then you are not ready to travel and it will only become a waste of time if you do.

  • You have short-term financial obligations.

  • You know exactly the career and type of job you want to pursue. If you are clear on this don’t waste time and go ahead. Do it now!

What to do if you decide you want to travel?

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  • Talk to your family and explain that you want to take some time off to travel and explore the world. Even if they don’t agree with the idea, at least they will know what’s going on and not freak out because you’re not following the traditional path.

  • Decide where you want to go and for how long.

  • Determine your budget.

  • If you don’t have a budget, figure out ways you can generate some cash. Working abroad, freelancing, crowdfunding, volunteering, family, etc.

  • Book your transportation months in advance for cheaper tickets.

  • Find a place to crash. It could be a friend’s couch, hostels, and if your budget allows, hotels.

Immersing yourself in another place and culture is a learning experience that will totally change your perspective about life and it will last longer than any car or any piece of furniture you may purchase in your lifetime. It’s an investment in the life experience that your future self can only benefit from. Make the most of it and let it change you.

Starting a Business

If you are 100% sure you want to start a business and become an entrepreneur, this is the time to do it. There are many businesses you can start, particularly with the internet. It will be a very bumpy ride with ups and downs but you will learn a lot about sales, marketing, leadership, operations, branding, and most importantly, you will learn how to fail and get back up again (many times).

Starting a business is for you if:

  • You don’t want to get a job and work for someone else being told what to do.

  • You understand it’s a learning experience and you will fail many times.

  • You prefer to invest your time and money into real world experiences developing your ideas rather than traveling or graduate school.

  • You are ok with taking risks and stepping outside of your comfort zone.

Starting a business is not for you if:

  • You can’t handle the stress of starting and running a business.

  • You feel more comfortable getting a job and working for someone else.

  • You cannot commit to it 100% of your time.

  • You are not comfortable with validating your ideas and asking for money.

What to do if you decide you want to start a business:

  • Validate your idea(s) as quickly as possible with friends, family, and immediate network. If you can get at least three paying customers, you are on to something.

  • Come up with a catchy company name and concentrate your efforts on sales, marketing, leadership, and personal development.

  • Take care of your health no matter what.

  • Assemble your team.

  • Seek advice from mentors, develop a business plan, and seek funding.

  • Enjoy the ride!

Moving Back With Your Parents

While moving back with your parents might not be a right fit for everyone, it definitely has its advantages considering the steep costs of living on your own. Living at home can be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to learn more about yourself and build a stronger relationship with your parents.

Moving back with your parents is for you if:

  • You are not sure of the career path you want to follow and need some time to explore and get to know yourself better.

  • You are not ready to live on your own and pay expensive rent. The last thing you want to do is being stuck in a city and job you dislike just to afford rent.

  • You have no internships, job, or travel plans lined up.

  • Your parents are ok with you moving back home.

Moving back with your parents is not for you if:

  • You are absolutely sure about the place you want to live in and the type of career you want to pursue.

  • You don’t want to play by your parents’ rules.

  • You have a bad relationship with your parents.

  • You have job opportunities lined up and are too independent to move back home.

What to do if you decide you want to move back with your parents?

  • Set a time frame for how long you are planning on living there and the main purpose of moving back home. Do you just need a place to stay before you start graduate school? Do you need somewhere to live at until you can save enough money and move out on your own? Be very clear on this and check back with your parents once this timeframe is up.

  • Set expectations about money and things to do around the house. Talking about money and house chores might feel awkward but it’s important to remember that being clear on how things are going to work while you live at home makes the experience much more symbiotic. Are you going to pay for rent, food, and living expenses? Are your parents going to cover you 100%? How can you help around the house with some yard work or fix-it projects?

  • Don’t forget to build your own life. Just because you are at your parents’ waiting until you can move out on your own, doesn’t mean your life is on pause. Volunteer, date, explore new things, and do your best to continue learning and growing instead of just waiting for your first opportunity to move on to somewhere else.

Whether you decide you want to travel, start a business, get a job, do more school, learn new skills, or just take some time off, the most important thing you can do is to have a clear why. Ask yourself: “Why am i doing this?” The answer to this question will not only allow you to get to know yourself better but it will also give purpose to whatever it is you decide to do.

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Published on January 7, 2021

How To Train Yourself When You Lack Attention To Details

How To Train Yourself When You Lack Attention To Details

Some people see the trees for the forest, and some see only the forest, meaning they lack strong attention to detail. But even if you’re one of the people who take a macro rather than a micro view, true professionalism requires balancing both.

If focusing on the fine points is not your forte, you will benefit from training yourself to pay attention to details. You will profit by saving yourself time, effort, money, and credibility.

Why Training Yourself in Attention to Details Pays Off

You add value to your organization when you make the effort to ensure that you performed your work thoroughly and effectively. This is why job postings often list “attention to details” among the required skills.

When you present your supervisor or client with well-completed, high-quality work the first time, it maximizes your value and minimizes wasted time. Detail-oriented people are also more adept at catching mistakes that could lead to costly blunders.

Moreover, attention to detail is an indicator of possessing other in-demand employee qualities, such as organization, thoroughness, and focus. In some professions, such as accounting, engineering, medical research, and more, you can only excel if you have trained yourself to pay attention to details.

In other professions, possessing strong attention to detail is the very quality that will get you promoted to a position where you will be asked to consider the big picture.

Finally, if you are the “go-to” details person, everyone else on the team can relax a bit. They know the project is in good hands and will likely throw you more projects as a reward. This will ultimately lead to your advancement.

3 Important Aspects of Becoming More Detail-Oriented

Here are the 3 important things you need to learn if you want to remedy your lack of attention to detail:

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  1. Respect deadlines
  2. Understand the work-flow plan
  3. Build in time to mess up

1. Respect Deadlines

Deadlines lend all projects a finish line. One smart idea is to take the given deadline and work backward from it, calculating when your piece of the project is due. Then, if you stick to the proscribed schedule for completing the mini-projects that you have, you will never miss a deadline.

One important note on this: It is smarter to stick to the deadline and turn in work that merits a “B+” than to blow the deadline with “A” work. Chances are, through revision and suggested changes from others on the team, you can bring up your B+ work to an A later. But if you disregard deadlines, you will lose the respect of your boss and fellow teammates.

2. Understand the Work-Flow Plan

Your team is developing work in conjunction with other teams who have projects and deadlines of their own. When you grasp the whole work-flow plan, you may be able to either add insight to the greater project or to your own smaller piece of it that others at the firm will consider valuable.

3. Build in Time to Mess Up

You can expect that “what can go wrong will go wrong.” Don’t overpromise on deadlines. Something likely will mess up, but when it does if you built in the time to fix it, those around you won’t freak out.

Chances are, you already give your attention to several details. Take heart. You can do this! You can overcome your lack of attention to detail and become more detail-oriented.

For starters, consider this: Most people take the time and put in extra effort into the activities or undertakings that matter to them most. Training yourself to become more detail-oriented can mean adopting a similar pattern of behavior.

Apply the same attention you give to your appearance. Are you a meticulous dresser? Do you pay attention to how you pair patterns and colors, and how you accessorize a particular outfit?

This is the same system to use when you lack attention to detail with your work. Give every item careful consideration so that each one contributes to the perfectly pieced-together whole.

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Assemble the ingredients the way you do when you cook. Cooking and baking from scratch require close attention to details as you measure and add each ingredient in sequence, and you time everything so that the meal comes together at the same time.

Similarly, your work product requires you to gauge whether all the ingredients have been added and that your final product is delivered on time.

Organize your business network like you do your social contacts. If you follow a broad base of friends and acquaintances on social media, you can apply similar skills to stay up-to-date on details associated with business acquaintances.

When you meet somebody who could be influential to your career or a resource for improving your skills, follow that person on social media. Respond to their posts to keep the lines of communication flowing.

12 Tips to Help You if You Lack Attention to Detail

Teaching yourself to take note of important details involves sharpening your perceptions and thinking ahead. The following tips will help you adopt these practices. Master these habits when training yourself to become detail-oriented.

1. Learn to Listen Well

You will pick up relevant information and needed nuance when you apply the skills of active listening. In conversations, train yourself to make eye contact, give your undivided attention to the speaker, and ask pertinent follow-up questions.

Training yourself to pay better attention to details in conversations includes learning to fully concentrate on what others have to say. If you find it hard, there’s no harm in taking notes on what they say.

2. Pay Attention to Social Cues

Make a point of noticing body language and facial expressions that provide insights into how others perceive a situation. Social cues offer details that give you an understanding of how words and actions impact others. The infamous character Michael Scott of the television show “The Office” epitomizes the consequences of not paying attention to others’ body language.[1]

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3. Follow Rules

Rules and protocols usually come about from lessons learned and are put in place to avoid further mishaps—whether from a safety or efficiency standpoint. If you’re given step-by-step procedures to follow, check them off as you go. Also, return to the rules at the project’s end just to make sure you adhered to them all.

4. Take Notes

Note-taking is a way to boost your retention and gives you something to refer back to when you need to keep track of pertinent details. You will also heighten your focus as you listen for relevant information. Review your notes shortly after the meeting or conversation and highlight the content that you intend to apply.

5. Prioritize What Needs Your Attention Now

When you have a full slate of work that demands your attention, take a few moments to sort assignments from most to least urgent. Keep a calendar, spreadsheet, or project planning software up-to-date with schedules and deadlines to help you stay organized.

As you tackle each urgent assignment, give it your full attention so no details are missed. Give yourself ample time—especially if you tend to be someone who waits until the last minute—as rushing can make you overlook important details.

6. Have a Detail-Oriented Assistant Check Your Work

If you lack attention to detail, then it makes sense to seek help from someone detail-oriented. If you have this option, take advantage of it. Two sets of eyes are better than one. Just be sure to credit your assistant for their help once the project is completed.

7. Learn the Rules of Writing Well

English is a difficult language, and grammar, punctuation, and spelling can all sabotage you unless you pay attention to detail. When in doubt, look it up. Free to use website services such as Grammarly can help.

8. Proofread Before You Hit Send

Nothing is perfect in its first draft. If you lack attention to detail, then put in the extra effort before submitting things. Before you send off any written work, check carefully not only for misspellings and incomplete sentences but also for improper tone, inappropriate colloquialisms, and inconsistent formatting. When your written communications are error-free, they will have their intended impact.

9. Minimize Distractions

It is impossible to stay focused when colleagues carry on conversations nearby or your mobile notifications ding you throughout the day. Do your best to limit distractions.

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If you are working where there is a lot of noise or side activity, try wearing noise-canceling headphones or seeking out a quiet corner. Disable your notifications when you need to focus, and resolve to only check them after you have completed your assignment.

10. Take Breaks

It may sound counter-intuitive to stop and take a walk, but it’s necessary. Walk away from the screen. Moving from one task to the next across the span of your workday is a recipe for brain fatigue. Give your brain a recess time when you come to a natural stopping place or after you complete one project and before you start the next. These short pauses are necessary for sorting through all the details needed for coming up with successful solutions.

11. Make Time for Reflection

At the end of a workday, take a few minutes to go over the day’s events in your mind. What was said or relayed in conversations? What is the status of the projects you worked on? What else occurred that you should pay attention to? Could there have been any details you might have missed that you should address tomorrow?

12. Keep a Detailed To-Do List

This simple organizational tool is your best ally for getting your work done on time and for paying attention to the details. If you are pressed for time (and who isn’t?), write your list to coordinate with dayparts.

Allot a certain number of hours to complete each task, do it, and then check it off. Nothing feels more rewarding than completing all the tasks on your list. But if you can’t finish them, then carry them over to the following day.

Final Thoughts

Details may seem small, but they can become a lot larger when they are overlooked. If you know you lack attention to detail, commit to training yourself to embrace the many facets that can help you consistently excel in the tasks you set out to accomplish.

When you begin to catch your mistakes in advance or apply the tidbits of information you gathered from paying close attention, you will know that you have trained yourself in the fundamentals of becoming detail-oriented. After that, you should start hearing the phrase “Great job!” more often.

More Tips on Boosting Your Attention to Detail

Featured photo credit: Cristina Gottardi via unsplash.com

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