What should you do after college?
As with all life decisions, there are too many options to count.
You could send out resumes until your email provider bans you from spamming. You could take a year off and work at a local coffee shop. Or you could go back to college and further your education.
For many people, what’s supposed to be an easy and exciting time of life — “Yay! We just graduated. Let’s go make tons of money at our dream jobs!” — quickly turns into a difficult and confusing conundrum.
What should you do?
Well, to be honest, I never graduated from college.
I did spend three years at different universities, but I bounced around so much — on my major and on the university I was attending — that I never actually walked the walk.
(But my teachers told me I had potential! lol)
Still, I think I’ve done well for myself.
I’m 26 and I’ve already been to 15 different countries. My one-man-show freelance writing biz makes me well over 7 figures per year. I have a beautiful wife who I’ve been married to for 7 years. I have a sweet three-year-old daughter. And I live in Hawaii!
I’ve worked hard to intentionally craft a life that I’m excited to live.
And I get a lot of messages from recent college grads who are trying to figure out what to do with their life.
My advice is simple, straight-forward, and practical.
Here are the 7 things I think that every person should do immediately after they graduate college.
1. Start Investing 10% Of Your Income
If you haven’t already started doing this, well… it’s not too late, but it’s later than you’ll wish it was.
Because the fact is, being a millionaire is super easy if you start investing money in your 20s. I’ve done the math and if I invest just $500 per month for the next 40 years, I’m going to have more than a million dollars.
If I invest $2,000 per month for the next 20 years, then I can have a few million by the time I’m 45!
And so can you.
In just the last year and a half, I’ve invested $14,500 and made $2,500…
Now that I understand the power of compound interest, I wish I would have started investing money at 18 years old or younger.
But as the saying goes…
The best time to plant a tree was 10 years ago. The second best time is now.
Do yourself a favor and don’t skip this step.
Investing your money is easier than ever… you can open a Roth IRA over at Vanguard and contribute up to $6,000 per year. If you want to invest more, check out Fundrise, which is an awesome real estate investment trust.
Or if you want to make it super dead-simple, then download Acorns and start investing your spare change.
And if you want to learn more about investing, check out my full guide over here.
2. Be Willing To Work For Less Than You Expected
If I had a penny for every time that a just-graduated college student expressed frustration to me at not being able to find a job that will pay them what they deserve, I would have at least 10 pennies.
Which isn’t a lot of pennies, I understand.
But that’s because pennies are worthless.
Kind of like your college education…
But seriously, don’t be bummed out if people are offering you less money than you expected. The first step is to get a job within your desired industry — your degree should help with that.
Even if the job doesn’t pay super well, it’s an important step toward getting the job you want and making the money you deserve.
3. Consider Alternative Ways To Monetize Your Expertise
There are a lot of different ways to make money in today’s world.
I’m a freelance writer who makes good money. I have friends who make hundreds of thousands of dollars every year through lifestyle coaching. I have other friends who make money as consultants, web designers, virtual assistants, and course peddlers.
To give you a few examples of people who I know for a fact are making a crap-load of money with non-traditional methods, check out the following websites.
Each of these websites is generating well over six figures in revenue for their owners…
- The Wandering RV — Recommends RV accessories.
- Jacob McMillen — Sells courses to freelance writers.
- Piano In 21 Days — Teaches people how to play the piano.
- Smart Blogger — Teaches people how to build successful blogs.
- Katie Melissa — Teaches people how to build successful e-commerce stores.
- Ryan Dossey — Teaches people how to invest in real estate successfully.
- Michal Eisikowitz — Creates websites and writes sales copy.
Those are just a few examples.
And if you take a few minutes to brainstorm, you might think of a non-traditional way to monetize your college education.
Could you create and sell a course? Could you coach people one-on-one? Could you consult businesses? Could you sell your services as a freelancer?
The best book I’ve read on this subject is Expert Secrets — it shows you, systematically, how to monetize your expertise with a simple online business. I highly recommend checking it out.
4. Create an Exciting Purpose
Do you know what you want to do with your life?
This question is really important.
In fact, maybe this should have been the first point… but damn it, investing is ALSO super important.
Oh well. Here we are.
You need to have a sense of purpose. You need to know what you want to do with your life and, more importantly, you need to know why you want to do that.
Do you want to find a full-time job?
Do you want to own a business?
How much money do you want to make?
What’s your end-goal?
Answering these questions doesn’t need to be super complicated. Just grab a piece of paper, sit down for ten minutes, and listen to your gut. Your answers should be exciting to look at… if they’re not, then you probably answered wrong.
If you need additional help, or you’re now having an existential crisis (totally understandable, to be honest), give this quick guide a read.
5. Don’t Compare Yourself To Your Friends
I know, I know…
All your friends are killing it.
They’re making more money than you, getting married before you, having kids, visiting Europe, drinking fancy wine, and jumping in exotic bodies of water.
You, on the other hand, have just finished amassing a depressing amount of debt, become extraordinary at surviving on very little sleep, and developed a remarkably resilient gut.
But none of that matters.
Focussing on other people’s success won’t make you stronger, take you farther, or help you achieve success in your own life.
So forget about it.
And stop spending so much time scrolling through social media.
6. Continue Your Self-Education
You just spent the last 4-6 years in a classroom, so the last thing you probably want to hear is that you should continue your education… right now.
But you should.
In fact, becoming a life-long learner will benefit you in more ways than one.
You’ll receive opportunities that your peers won’t, you’ll be prepared to tackle those opportunities head-on, and you’ll develop a more positive, realistic mindset.
But you don’t need to limit your self-education to one specific topic.
Read about finance, or about how to become a great leader, or how to speak with confidence. Watch videos that teach you about space or quantum physics. Study the psychology behind effective marketing and sales. Learn how people think. Learn how to control your own mind. Discover the nuances behind effective parenting and interpersonal relationships.
Yes, you’re out of college.
But the world is still your oyster.
And the more you learn, the faster you learn, the better life you’re going to live… plain and simple.
From one life-long learner to another, here are some of my favorite eye-opening books on a variety of different topics — choose one and dive in!
- Grit — This is all about the power of being passionate and persistent. It turns out, success is more about those things then it is about talent or natural giftedness.
- I Will Teach You To Be Rich — Here you’ll learn a dead-simple strategy for investing your money smartly. You don’t need to be a genius to become a millionaire. And this book is a great reminder of that.
- Breathe — This book is all about your breath. How you breathe makes a big difference in how you feel and how you perform. I, for one, will never breathe through my mouth again after reading this.
- Expert Secrets — Here you’ll learn how to build an online business out of your unique expertise. It’s simple, straight-forward, and uber practical.
- What Doesn’t Kill Us — Want to know how you can use cold water, hyperventilation, and extreme altitudes to renew your lost evolutionary strength? Yeah, me neither. Which is why this book was such an unexpected delight.
7. Be Open To Every Opportunity That Comes Your Way
I’ve known more than one college grad who pigeonholed themselves into a single career path for no good reason.
Look — I get it.
You got your degree in a specific field and by god, you’re going to use it.
But if life were as simple as that, then we’d all be millionaires by now.
The fact is, life often doesn’t go how you planned. Things get in the way of your planned path. This is the rule, not the exception.
Maybe you’re not getting responses to your resumes, maybe you’re failing every interview, or maybe you’re realizing that the degree you got doesn’t actually represent what you want to do with the rest of your life.
Take stock of your current opportunities and just work with what you’ve got.
Who do you know that could help you get a foot in the door? What do you really want to do? Do you need to get a part-time job for a little while so you can pay the bills until you land a career-focused job?
My point is, be flexible.
And if you’re still wrestling with the age-old question of what you want to do with your life, check out my guide over here.
What Are You Going To Do After College?
So what’s next for you?
Are you going to try and get a job in your chosen field? Are you going to further your education? Are you going to try and change paths?
The world is your oyster and you can do with it as you please.
The only thing that really matters… is that you make the most of the life you’ve been given.
So get up, take action, and see where you end up.
It’s going to be an exciting journey, no matter what.
Mike is the founder of Get Your Gusto Back. He has a passion for traveling, he LOVES to write, and he’s been mentioned in Forbes and Entrepreneur for his expertise as a marketer and personal-development expert. He currently lives in Hawaii with his wife and two-year-old daughter.