adulting tips

‘I just graduated. Now what?’ Things to do after earning that degree

Rainielle Kyle Guison

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‘I just graduated. Now what?’ Things to do after earning that degree


Post-grad rites anxiety can get you thinking if you need a job right away or if you deserve that much-awaited break

MANILA, Philippines – It’s graduation season once again! After four or more years of studying in college, you can finally flex that toga, write that novel of a graduation post, and celebrate without thinking of deadlines because your school years are over.

Getting your hard-earned diploma is one thing but the thought that you can finally rest your mind is another level of satisfaction. Parties and greetings will surely follow your graduation rites, but as the hype subsides, this one thought that you’ve been avoiding for months finally returns. With no excuse, you can’t keep it at bay any longer – “I just graduated. Now what?”

If you’re one of these fresh graduates, you’ve definitely thought about your next plans once you’ve bade farewell to your alma mater. There’s the hustle culture that tells you to find a job right away, but there’s also the self-care gurus reminding you that it’s okay to take a break. 

So, which way to go? Here are some ideas for what you can do after graduating.

Preparing for the ‘real’ thing

The norm is that after you graduate, you immediately have to find a job. Some may even remind you to not slack off, and so you would feel the need to look for a job even before graduating. If you manage to find an employer right away, congratulations! It seems like you’ve got it all together. 

However, we have to agree that transitioning from school to work is not a piece of cake.

It’s understandable if you didn’t try to find a job while still completing your last month in school. The mental and emotional burden of being uncertain about graduating is already tough to handle so it’s just valid to focus on one thing at a time. While you’re processing the reality that you’re finally entering adulthood, a thing you could do is to prepare for working life by creating basic application documents.

First off the list: create a LinkedIn profile. While we’re still in a pandemic, most job applications will still remain online and some companies will still prefer a remote work setup. Creating an online account about your career qualifications will surely increase your chances of getting employed since companies also use this platform. You can start by adding basic profile sections such as your introduction, education, and honors/awards. It’s also best to add your prior experiences such as internships, and big roles you held in your university’s organizations.

However, employers usually still ask for a resume or curriculum vitae. You can download a resume straight out of LinkedIn but if you want to highlight specific parts of the document, it’s better to create your own layout. Several templates are available online depending if you want it to look professional or a little bit on the creative side, especially if you plan to apply for a design-related job.

Another thing that you should consider creating is a portfolio. This is especially useful for aspiring designers, photographers, videographers, and even journalists. Compile your best outputs from past projects you had in the university or internships. This is a good way to show your future employer what you can do and what they can expect once they hire you.

‘Adulting’ time

We can’t deny that as official graduates, you will now enter your “adulting” phase. Part of this is preparing the essential documentary requirements that you will need for the entirety of your working life. You will have to get identification cards and clearances, and open certain accounts which will also be required when you finally land a job.

Some of these essential documents may include the National ID, a clearance from the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), a Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) ID, and a Unified Multi-Purpose ID (UMID) for several government-related agencies. Here’s a guide on how to apply for some of these documents.

Soon enough, you will also be earning money, so it would be smart to open a bank account as well. Adulting will involve a lot of budgeting and it will save you a lot of stress if you start organizing your finances as early as now.

More training and more studying?

It’s difficult to land a job when you’re underqualified because all the openings require years of experience, and it’s quite ironic that what you’re looking for is also what you need. Of course, there are job openings for fresh graduates, but a good way to build your career experience is by getting internships.

Hone your research skills because opportunities like these can be difficult to find. Browse websites, follow social media pages of your dream companies, and join online groups to find a fitting internship. If you’re lucky enough, you can also find ones that are paid, so this is also a good starting point in earning money as a fresh graduate.

Other than internships, you can also do volunteer work for non-government agencies. There are also fellowship programs that you can apply to depending on the work that you plan to do. Make use of the internet because there are a lot of opportunities out there!

On the other hand, going back to school is also an option if you’ve decided that you’re still not ready for the “real world.” Some fresh graduates opt to continue their studies through a master’s program. Whether they’d like to stay in academia or improve their credentials for future work, taking a postgraduate degree is a good option. There are also aspiring lawyers and doctors who might still be unsure about going to law or med school. Maybe this is your sign to take that entrance exam!

Pause and breathe

Pop icon Rihanna may have said “work, work, work,” but unfortunately, some people are just too tired! Come to think of it, as part of the pioneers of K to 12, you’ve been studying for more or less 20 years. Shouldn’t it be just fair to take a short break from all the stress? After all, you wouldn’t want to get burned out on your first job.

Many may pressure you to get a job right away, or personally, you might feel obligated to “give back” as soon as possible, but you also have to think about your body’s needs. The pandemic taught us that self-care, especially for our mental health, is okay.

Taking a break from the hustle and bustle of life for a few months shouldn’t make you feel guilty, especially when you realize that you will be working for the rest of your life. 

Binge that Netflix series you’ve been putting off watching. Reconnect with yourself and revisit your hobbies. Travel around the country, and if you’re feeling extra fancy, spend your pre-work vacation in Europe!

At the end of the day, it’s all up to you. You could be just as excited for work as you were when you were entering college, or you have finally learned that a healthy body brings better productivity. There will be a lot of external pressure but remember, it’s your life and you make your own choices. Take some time to realign your priorities, and ask yourself “what do I want to do?” –

Rainielle Kyle Guison is a Rappler intern.

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