Vassar College Commencement 2010

You’re finishing up your finals, sending thank you notes to your professors, and having one last lunch at your favorite downtown hangout. You’re so close to graduation you can feel it, but your head is also spinning (read: freaking out) with questions about post-grad life. Questions that some of you happened to ask us, and that we got real experts to answer. So, read up and thank us later:

1. Why won’t someone hire me?!!?

Are you just sending one boiler-plate resume every which way? Don’t do that. “Tweak your resume to match each job description. That’s what we’re looking for—that match,” says Kim Myers, a corporate recruiter for TruGreen. And when you get an interview somewhere, make sure your passion for and knowledge of the company comes through. “We want to hire people who are really excited about what we’re doing—and anything you can throw out to show you’ve done your research is great,” Myers adds. 

2. Am I better off accepting an internship at an amazing company after graduation, or should I focus solely on the job hunt?

No one likes to hear this answer—but it depends. “If it’s an internship that will lead to other opportunities or a stellar full-time job, take it,” says Hilary Weaver, who graduated in December 2014 and went on to intern for The Nation. “When it comes to your post-grad employment, whether that’s a job or an internship, don’t settle. Do the thing that will ultimately make you the happiest,” she adds.

3. I’m heading to a brand new city. How do I build a social circle?

Assuming you’re moving for a job (congrats!), start with your coworkers. ”I’m so glad I’ve gotten to know my coworkers and their friends, as well as the people I’ve met through industry networking events,” says Celia Ampel, who graduated in May 2014 and now works as a tech and startups reporter at the South Florida Business Journal. Ampel also suggests signing up for group activities, such as a trivia team or kickball league, even if they seem silly at first. “And don’t be afraid to invite people from the different corners of your new life to hang out together,” she says. 

4. But is it really a good idea to become friends with your coworkers—or does that just make for an awkward situation?

Like a lot of things, moderation is key. Your coworkers shouldn’t be the only people you see, but if you end up with a few good comrades, consider yourself lucky!” says Chelsea Marion, who graduated in May 2013 and is now a client success manager at Curalate. And there’s also a work benefit, she adds: “Because my coworkers are also my friends, I understand their work styles better, and I feel more comfortable asking questions and seeking help when I need it.”

5. Hypothetically, how will completing a service year or two (Peace Corps, Teach for America) impact my eventual job search?

Think about why you’d want to do a service program. ”If you’re doing it because you believe it has a specific purpose, it will be additive to your search,” says Adena Johnston, an executive coach and leadership development consultant at CCI Consulting. Examples: You want to understand more about a specific country or its economic situation. “If, however, you chose this path because you’re floundering and don’t know what else to do, be intentional about the experience so you can eventually articulate the benefits to a prospective employer,” Johnston says. One way to do this, she adds, is to think of the program as a post-graduate major. ”Employer X might ask you why you chose your major…she might also also ask why you chose a service program,” she explains.  

6. Will I feel stagnant — as if I’m not developing in any way — by entering the workforce rather than continuing an education?

According to Weaver, you might find that you learn more outside of a classroom environment. You just have to be proactive about it. “In the real world, you get to be even more selective about your environments, both in your chosen workplace and your other activities,” she says. “Challenge yourself to attend events — seminars, conferences, film festivals — that truly interest you, and you’ll never feel the need to flip open a syllabus again. Instead, you get to write your own.”

2012 Syracuse University Commencement

7. Is it bad that I’m going to grad school just because I’m not ready to be a “real adult” yet?

Focus less on whether it’s good or bad, and more on your end game. “Ask yourself, how will going to grad school help you reach that point?” says Amy Simons, an assistant professor at the Missouri School of Journalism. If you don’t know what your end game is yet, Simons says to consider the opposite route: “Get some work experience, and then consider returning to grad school. At that point, you’re more likely to know exactly what you want to get out of it.”

8. I’m apartment hunting just as much as I’m job hunting — in terms of rent, how do I know how much I can afford?

Consider your requirements, as well as your restrictions. “I always think it’s best to find a place that’s as inexpensive as possible but still meets your needs,” says Claire Landsbaum, a May 2014 graduate and online editorial intern at New York Magazine. “Use GlassDoor.com or a similar site to estimate your annual salary, and make sure you look at the terms of the lease to find out if your salary is sufficient. Keep in mind that living with roommates is always cheaper than living alone!”

9.  Should I try to pick my first job based on a city where I see myself living long-term? 

It comes down to your profession’s requirements, says Ashley Stahl, a millennial career coach based in Los Angeles. “We live in a world where networking can happen over coffee as much as it can over the phone,” she says. “If you’re in a field that doesn’t require a professional degree or special licensing hours, the city where you take your first job isn’t likely to impact your chances of being somewhere else long-term,” she says.

10. How do you keep track of your budget? 

There’s an app for that! Kathryn Jankowski, who graduated in May 2013 and is now an assistant media planner at Carat USAuses the Mint app as well as Mint.com. “It’s an extremely easy way to keep all of my finances in one place, and even sends me reminders when I have bills due,” she says. Use it to track where you’re overspending — cabs, Seamless, etc.

Soon-to-be grads, do you have any more questions that need answers? Let us know in the comments.

(Photos via Andy Kropa/Getty + Nate Shron/Getty)

This post was originally published on Levo League by Madison Feller