I graduated undergrad 15 years ago and I have been reflecting back on those undergrad days and thinking about the journey that got me here.
Here is a mix of things I did/wish I did that can set you up for success your 30s and beyond.
1. Get work experience
Accept an entry-level position even if it's NOT in your field. It may not be your dream job BUT getting some solid entry-level experience will set you up for future career success.
2. Work 2 or 3 jobs
Hustle your way and do what needs to be done to save money and/or eliminate debt. This is for a season: short-term sacrifice, long-term gain. You wont always have to do this but give yourself as much financial headstart and freedom as possible. And while you have the strength and energy to push yourself, go for it.
3. Pay off debt/Avoid Debt
Depending on how you paid for undergrad, you may have student loans and/or consumer debt. Pay this off as quickly as possible.
4. Save $25 to $50 per paycheque
If you do this for 15 years you will have $9,750 OR $19,500. Put it in RRSPs (in Canada which is a long term retirement savings plan - 401k in the US) so you can't access the money. You could access this as part of your downpayment or even for further education.
5. Get life insurance
Your future older self with thank you because the younger you get life insurance the cheaper it will cost you in this long-run. This may not matter to you now, but once you're married and have kids, you will want to have life insurance and may end up paying a lot more for it once you're older.
6. Travel (once the world opens up again)
You're just finishing school - before committing yourself to anyone or anything, take some time and see the world on a budget (of course we have to wait out COVID19 to do this). This is not to say that you can't once coupled up - travel plans are so much easier (and cheaper) to coordinate when you are accountable to yourself only.
7. Build up your side-hustle
When I was in undergrad I used to braid hair. After graduation, I stopped. Now that I do my daughters hair on a regular basis, I wish I kept it up and even grew it into a full on hustle. The idea is still on the table.
8. Write your 5 year plan
Write the vision, and make it plain. This season is one of such uncertainty and so much transition. Write down your vision for what you would like it to be and revisit it regularly. Create a vision board that is ambitious. There is so much power in visualizing your dreams. Then work at achieving your goals, step by step.
9. Start a business
I have friends who were bold enough to go into business right when we finished school and when I see how far they have grown, I wish I had the courage to have done that. If you're thinking about it, stop thinking and get informed, and then dive in!
10. Buy property
Once you have a stable job, invest in your first property. If your parents can pitch in great, if not, hustle your way like I mentioned before. The earlier you get into the property market the better. Consider buying land, if you can't go for a full on property - it will only increase in value.
Money is good - don't get me wrong. But while you're waiting for paid employment, volunteer in the type of organization you see yourself working for in the future. You could get good references and work experience out of this.
12. Read for pleasure
Undergrad was so intense and there was a lot of course work. Take time to read for pleasure whether it is fiction or autobiography's. A couple of titles for recent graduates: The path made clear - Oprah Winfrey and Finish by Jon Acuff.
13. Learn a new sport/skill
I wish I learned to skate or to ski. Now that I have kids, I am realizing that I should've learned how to do this a while ago. They are on my bucket lists for this year - yes 2020! Learn to swim, skate, ski, play a sport. Learn something new.
14.Trust your gut
My gut voice has never let me down. God knows how to speak into your inner spirit person. Trust the voice that is guiding you from within.
15. Embrace the uncertainty
I remember those years between 24 to 30. They felt so agonizing as it seemed everyone had figured themselves out and I was just wandering. The only way past these years is through them. So embrace the uncertainty and know that it shall be well.
You got this!