5 Things To Do Before Starting Your Career After Graduating From University

graduating job search university

While summer offers a well-deserved break for undergraduates, it also signals the beginning of the next chapter in your life if you’re graduating from university. It’s undeniably an exciting time, but the job search can be a frustrating journey. From applications to offers, the process can easily span over 2 months, especially for coveted management trainee roles in top-tier companies.

If you’re graduating this year and about to embark on your professional journey, here are 5 crucial steps you must take to ensure a successful start to your career:

If you are graduating this year and embarking on the start of your career, here are 5 things you absolutely must do to ensure that you start your career on the right footing:

1. Make sure you have your budget in place before you start earning money

When you get your first real paycheck, you’ll probably have more money than you’ve ever had in your life. But there will also be new expenses which will hit you in the face like a sledgehammer. Figuring this out only after you start earning money is definitely not a good idea because once you get sucked into the cycle of spending what you previously didn’t have, it’s hard to get into the discipline of doing so.

Assuming you continue to live rent-free with your parents (and even if you don’t), like many Hong Kongers it’s likely you’ll be expected to contribute to household expenses or give your parents allowance. You’ll also have to factor in the cost of commuting to your workplace and having lunch outside of home every weekday.

All this means you’ll need to come up with a budget befitting of your newfound status as an adult. Resist the urge to skip this step, as you’ll soon discover that a grown-up salary is all too easy to squander.

So decide upfront how much you want to set aside each month, and how much you can afford to spend, and then stick to that budget. Transfer a portion of your salary into an untouchable savings account each month if you must.

2. Clean up your Internet presence

When you were in university, Facebook or Instagram was a great way to meet new people and show off your carefree life. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work the same way for grown ups and some adjustment is in order. You’re not just graduating from university, but also graduating from a phase in life, and you better believe that phase will change significantly.

Throughout your university days, your Facebook and Instagram account might have served as a the display platform of photos of all your wildest exploits. But as an adult it is now something potential bosses will be Googling up before deciding whether or not to hire you. In more extreme cases, you might even get hired or fired because of something you’ve posted online.

So spend some time cleaning up all your social media accounts, blogs and websites, making sure you are not publishing things that you wouldn’t want people at work to see. We’re not just talking about inappropriate photos, but consider whether or not you might potentially end up working for more conservative companies that may not take too kindly to your extreme political views, for example.

3. Build up an emergency fund

As a working adult, you’re going to be on your own when it comes to expenses. If you get an eye infection and end up getting charged HK$200 by the hospital, that’s coming out of your pocket. If you go a little overboard with your credit cards and don’t manage them well, you’ll have to deal with the consequences of having to deal with paying off your bills with interest.

So start to build up an emergency fund right away. Your emergency fund should hold 3-6 months’ worth of your monthly expenses, depending on how much of your salary you spend each month and how stable your income is.

4. Start planning for retirement

Many young Hong Kongers don’t actually consider what they’ll need for retirement and how to get there until much later in their careers. The thing is you can save yourself from a huge headache later on if you start planning and saving early.

So don’t hesitate to jump into retirement planning as soon as you can. Your plan doesn’t have to be perfect, and you can always change it later. The important thing is that you start to save and invest in some way as early as possible. That will put you light years ahead of your peers who only start decades later. Make use of the magic of compounding interest to start investing early, and you’ll reach the same number as people who start later even with investing a fraction of what they do on a monthly basis.

5. Buy medical insurance

This is something else that young working adults tend to avoid like the plague. The irony of this is that buying insurance when you are younger makes way more financial sense because the premiums are much lower.

Wait until you are above 30 years old and you will see how significantly premiums shoot up. Also, given that you won’t be earning as much in the early years of your career, it makes way more sense to “protect” your money should something unexpected happen to you. Heavy medical bills can potentially wipe out your savings and insurance is there not to make you rich (as some insurance agents might tell you) but to help make sure that you are well covered.

6. Get a credit card to improve your credit score

After graduating, it’s worth considering getting a credit card. Maintaining a good credit usage record can boost your credit score and grant you preferential interest rates for mortgages or other forms of financing. It’s a wise move that can open doors to better financial opportunities.

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Frequently asked questions: Things to do after graduation

How long does the job search process typically take?

The job search process can often take over 2 months, especially for competitive roles in top-tier companies such as management trainee positions.

What should I do before I start earning money?

Before you start earning money, it’s crucial to have a budget in place. Determine how much you can afford to spend and how much you want to set aside each month. This will help you avoid falling into the trap of overspending.

How can I clean up my Internet presence?

Cleaning up your Internet presence is important as potential employers may Google you before making hiring decisions. Go through your social media accounts, blogs, and websites to ensure you’re not sharing anything inappropriate or controversial that could harm your professional image.

Why is it important to build up an emergency fund?

As a working adult, you’ll be responsible for covering unexpected expenses. Building up an emergency fund with 3-6 months’ worth of expenses provides a financial safety net in case of emergencies or unforeseen circumstances.

When should I start planning for retirement?

It’s never too early to start planning for retirement. The earlier you begin saving and investing, the better. Take advantage of compounding interest by starting to save and invest as soon as possible, even if it’s a small amount each month.

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