A year, 3 companies, a relocation opportunity and an acquisition later I’ve taken a moment to think about what’s happened to me after finishing school and I’d like to share what I realized.

Receiving My Diploma
A year ago, I was thinking about how I would do my hair, not tripping while walking across the stage and how cold it would be. I was just a couple of weeks from getting my undergraduate degree and I had waited for this moment for a long time, but what had I really been waiting for?

Yes, I would be getting my diploma after numerous hours of reading, studying, homework and all of the requirements necessary to pass my classes, but graduating is more than walking across a stage and waving to your loved ones. It is a time to reflect and remember what you learned. I learned many things while I was in school and it helped me view the world in a different way. However, looking back now, I can’t help but think about some of the things I didn’t learn and how they would have been useful. So for those of you who are graduating, I hope this is helpful advice as you start the next chapter in your life.

Everything Costs More Than You Think 
Whether you decide to stay planted in the city or town where you studied or pick up and move elsewhere, one thing is for sure – it will cost you. According to HomeAdvisor, moving cross country over 100 miles can cost between $2,000 and $5,000. If you decide to stay in the same city, there are still costs you have to consider, like rent/mortgage, application fees, storage, transportation, furniture… and the list goes on. This is just one example, but there are many more costs to factor and are important to think about and plan for. Which brings me to my next point: Finances.

Personal Finances
During my finance classes we learned and discussed how organizations managed their money. From expenses to profit we learned how a business could be successful. But what about how we manage our own money? Like creating a budget, saving and spending responsibly? I found someone who can help us all be better at this. Dave Ramsey is businessman and author. Some call him a financial guru. He provides financial advice on debt, budgeting, and financial peace. Once I began to listen to his radio show, I realized the importance of saving, investing, and getting rid of my debt. His show helped me better understand how to manage my money, and it has been of benefit when making short- and long-term financial decisions. Even if it isn’t with Dave Ramsey, I suggest finding someone who can help you start developing healthy money-managing habits.

The Job Search
So, how do you make money? By getting a job of course! You’re asking, “What type of job should I get?” Well… that’s where doing research comes in handy. A good place to start would be looking up titles and keywords in your area of study. From there, start filtering by qualifications, responsibilities, and your interests. Once you find a few postings that look promising, begin applying. This may sound easy, but it is actually a lot of work. Looking for a job IS a job. You have to make sure your resume is up-to-date, you stay connected on sites like LinkedIn and you keep up with the latest news in your industry. These are just a few simple tips that helped me while job searching, but here are a few more tips that can be helpful.

It Never Stops
One thing that I truly learned after being out of school for an entire year, leaving a corporate job to work at a startup and landing in cybersecurity after deciding not to relocate; is that learning never stops. Every day is an opportunity to learn something new. It can be for your job, just for curiosity’s sake, or for personal development reasons. I think learning is a great part of life and have come to appreciate it. I personally want to continue growing and becoming better than the person I was before, so the best advice I can give anyone is to never stop learning.