The Retirement PlanI know, I know. How can you possibly start to think about retirement, if you only just found a job after months of searching? Trust me—I shared your sentiments as well. But, as far away and dull as it sounds, retirement plans are a very important aspect of becoming a responsible, employed adult. Look into your company's retirement offerings. You want to begin thinking about the future right away. By starting to think about and plan out your retirement now, you can set yourself up for a very comfortable future. At the very least, when you start your first "real world" job out of college, look into the retirement options you have. What types of plans does your company offer? What options might make the most sense for your situation? By simply becoming better educated on the topics of retirement and IRA accounts, you can more responsibly plan for your future and manage your finances.
Actual Financial Planning
While retirement falls in place with financial planning, there is much more to the topic than just thinking about starting a retirement plan. For many newly employed college grads, "saving" is not necessarily at the top of our to-do list. This is the first time that you're making "real" money for yourself and have only yourself (and your college loans) to spend it on. With this freedom comes a lot of reckless or at least thoughtless spending. You want to celebrate the fact that you've actually graduated from college, landed a job, and survived. Spending is easy to do and it seems logical in the first few months. However (and this is a big however), it's a very wise idea to look into your financial situation very carefully after you get your first paycheck. Sit down and look through things. See exactly how much money you earn, learn where that money is going (loans, rent, groceries, gas, etc.), and try to create a financial plan. Divvy up your finances and try to make a plan as to where things will go. How much will you spend on necessities (rent, gas, food), how much goes to "fun", and how much will you put towards savings?
Professional* NetworkingOne of the most challenging aspects of entering the professional world is learning how to navigate the social world of an office. This is by far one of the things I struggled with most in the first few months of my first "real" job. The bottom line is that communication and friendships just can't be the same when you're in a professional office atmosphere. Though you may be surrounded by people your age day in and day out (much like college), you can't treat these colleagues the same way you would college dorm mates. Of course, you're going to make friends and build relationships with your coworkers after a period of time. It's good to be friends with your coworkers, but you want to be careful with your interactions. The professional world is different from any other realm. You need to keep things professional. Watch the way you talk about certain aspects of your work like. Try to compartmentalize to some degree. If you become close friends with a coworker, remain solely coworkers in the office and solely friends inside the office.
An education blogger by trade, Maria Rainer loves to explore the connections between the web and a college education. She writes for www.onlinedegrees.org on online student advice columns and substantive posts on the latest trends in online education. Please share your comments with Maria.