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24 Survival Tips for Graduates in 2023

by College Life
Updated on October 18, 2023

Congratulations, Class of 2023! 

Following stressful weeks, uncertainties, and fun memories with your peers, you finally get to throw your hat to celebrate. When the excitement dissipates, new worries may set in. What now? Navigating the transition into the professional world is crucial to get a hold of your life after graduation. However, you need not worry as you're beginning a new phase filled with even more gratifying experiences and fulfilling opportunities. Through careful planning, learning, and reflection, you'll be off to a great start! Thus, this article will provide 24 survival tips to help graduates thrive in the professional world in 2023

Tip #1: Embrace solo dates - time to reflect!

Give yourself time to adjust to this new chapter. Many changes are coming your way, and it's better you reflect on where you are now. Think about what you've accomplished and the goals you want to achieve. Ask yourself: What did I like and not like about my studies? Where do I see myself flourishing - what work and which country? What makes me happy and fulfilled? It may help to write it down and experiment with journaling. Sometimes, when you actively reflect and write, you realise what a long way you've come.

Bonus: Take yourself on a date and bring your notebook or laptop with you. It can be a small cafe serving the best coffee (in your opinion) in town or a park with picturesque scenery. Anything that makes you feel calm to give yourself peace of mind.

Tip #2: Let yourself get lost to find the version you want to become 

It may seem the scariest step of all, yet extremely rewarding eventually. While planning is essential, you need room to wiggle to find the life you wish to lead after graduation. Whether it's something drastic such as a career change or simply being unsure - it's okay to feel this way. Importantly, trust yourself and what you truly wish from your life and avoid negative peer pressure.

The travel writer Matt Gross gives many tips and narrates stories of his adventures getting lost while travelling. His articles can give you some great tips to travel smartly! For instance, he has suggested that you stow your baggage in a locker and roam around the streets. He also has emphasised that you don't immediately get lost as you still have some sense of direction. Yet the more you move away from the familiar and into the unknown, the more you let yourself get lost. In the same way, lock your metaphorical bags filled with the must-dos and "this-has-always-been-a-plan"s in your room but don't expect to be comfortable initially. Just be curious about the process of having an opportunity to find your best version by letting yourself move away from the familiar. Get lost and trust that you'll find your way out.

Tip #3: Set career goals and create a roadmap for achieving them

After these reflection sessions, it's time for more practical steps. Hopefully, you have an idea or two about how you wish your life and career to look. Now, you can set actionable goals. Not to make too many travelling references, but it helps to have a roadmap. Create a strategic vision of your ambitions with smaller achievable steps. There are many ways to create a career roadmap, and you can adjust it according to your needs!

Tip #4: Develop a strong online presence and optimise your professional profiles

Your LinkedIn profile has to become your usual companion. LinkedIn is an ideal platform if you are looking to browse current job prospects and connect with potential employers. Take this free time after graduation to update (or create) your online presence on LinkedIn by including all your experiences, skills, or certifications. Ensure you also add your description in the "summary" section and post some content from your work that can serve as a portfolio.

Often, recruitment nowadays happens online. Regardless, be sure that your employer will check your socials beyond LinkedIn. Thus, cleaning up your profiles is vital - Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other platforms you utilise. Make it private where necessary - don't forget to have a work-life balance! 

Tip #5: Conduct extensive research on job prospects to know your options 

Doing research is always an intelligent move for everything you set your mind to. Hence, if you wish to orient yourself in the market, checking out your job prospects can prove beneficial to be clear on your options. Here's where your LinkedIn profile comes in handy. Additionally, dig deeper with other employment websites for job listings.

This research will also help you better understand what kind of positions and work you see yourself in - which job descriptions made you feel excited and which made you yawn? There you have it.

Tip #6: Continuously update and improve your resume and cover letter

You might have already made your resume and written a cover letter. Yet, it's not a one-and-done process as you continuously grow and acquire more skills and experiences. Not to mention, resumes always need adjustments to tailor to the specific job you're applying for. You can work on it even with no previous work experience. After all, you have just graduated!

Take this time to improve, learn tips and tricks to optimise your documents, and try various templates - see what works for you! 

Tip #7: Diversify your resume by volunteer work, hobbies, and certifications 

If you feel something's lacking when working on your resume, you should add steps to your roadmap. You could look at volunteering opportunities, receiving certifications, or developing your hobbies. It's an advantage as it helps to diversify your resume with this, and these experiences add a unique touch to stand out. 

Volunteer work can be an exciting, fun, and gratifying experience. Not to mention, it looks good on your resume. Volunteering for an exciting festival, project, or social service can provide you with skills and memories of a lifetime.

There are many online courses for various technical skills for which you can acquire certifications (and flaunt in your resume and LinkedIn profile!) It's advisable to develop technical aptitude as it's one of the vital future skills that can make you an attractive candidate. 

Embrace your current hobbies or revisit the old ones even if it feels like it's not relevant to your career. Employers will want to know about you beyond the skills required for the job. Depending on your hobby, you may also create an online portfolio to showcase your work.

Bonus: This tip is helpful for your career path and contributes to your personal growth as you evolve, learn, and experience diverse opportunities. 

Tip #8: Practise and refine your interview skills

Before landing a job and starting a career, we all have to go through the interview process, where we try to present our best selves. First impressions are crucial, so displaying a positive demeanour goes a long way. Practise welcoming and confident body language and tone of voice. Write a 60-second elevator pitch and practice saying it out loud many times. If possible, enrol for training. It can also be a course for public speaking as the skills acquired there will, overall, greatly help in knowing how to present yourself. 

Tip #9: Embrace networking opportunities and build professional connections

A lot of the time, networking can open more doors for you than any online applications and impressive cover letters can. Networking is vital to build professional connections and reach companies and organisations you wish to work for. Strike up conversations online, and join specific and relevant groups for your career path. While many interactions are now happening online, don't overlook the power of networking offline. Attend those career fairs and networking events, apply your skills of effectively presenting yourself, and create meaningful professional connections.

Tip #10: Seek mentorship and guidance from experienced professionals

Networking can also assist you in finding mentors or professionals in your field who can guide you on how to get started. Merely listening to others' experiences can already teach you a lot about what (not) to do. Don't be shy to ask for advice and help; most people love sharing their knowledge. It's good to ask for feedback on your work and get some fresh perspectives.

Tip #11: Keep learning and seek opportunities for professional development

Graduating doesn't mean you stop learning. Continuous learning is the key to developing, growing, and reaching more of your goals. So you should also polish your existing skills and knowledge - "Repetition is the mother of learning!"”

Moreover, say yes to more opportunities for professional growth. Apply for those crash courses, read. Put your revised resume to good use - apply for an internship or traineeship that seems beneficial for your career path.

Tip #12: Stay updated with industry trends and developments

That being said, one vital aspect of continuous learning is staying updated on today's trends. The good news is this does not necessarily require a big-time investment. Merely 15-20 minutes of your day to skim through the news in your industry can yield tremendous results for you. Look for the influences in the field, the emergent trends that are not yet fully explored, and the skills on demand. This can inspire you and provide you with topics to spark conversations when networking.

Tip #13: Manage your finances wisely

You know you're stepping into adult life when you must plan your finances independently. While you already had to think of this during your university years, now it's time to pay off those student loans, if needed. It’s time to create a new budget, including your rent, taxes, living expenses, and other costs that are part of your life’s new chapter.

Tip #14: Build a personal brand and showcase your unique strengths

Just as companies tap into employer branding, you should create one for yourself. As a potential employee entering the workforce, building your personal brand to showcase your strengths is of the essence. This can be done in numerous ways. Optimise your professional profiles online (see Tip 4) and work on your portfolio. Regardless, employers want to see tangible results like examples. You can create a website or simply a pdf where you write down your strengths and  also showcase them. Many website builders give you a free option to create your own!

Tip #15: Build a professional wardrobe

Here's a fun tip! As mentioned earlier (see Tip 8), first impressions are critical, and clothes can have an influence. As you enter the workforce and leave student life, you should also switch up your wardrobe: put your hoodies and sweatpants on your shelves and make room for some shirts, classy pants, and blazers. Yet, if this sounds very far from you, it can also hint at the environment you wish to work in. Many jobs still require a dress code - business professional, business casual, or casual. There's also a not-so-new trend of business attire that involves pyjama pants if you work remotely - that's a choice you can make yourself. 

Tip #16: Develop digital literacy

Despite of your chosen industry, technology has permeated every field. Hence, the need for tech-savvy employees is in constant demand. Many times, you'll see various tech knowledge requirements in job descriptions, and adding them to your resume or LinkedIn profile will instantly put you higher than those that lack them. Knowing Microsoft 365 is a no-brainer and it's a huge plus if you're acquainted with Adobe Software - the more the merrier. Do you know how to build a website? - make it known. Have you learned programming languages, such as Javascript or Python? - emphasise that. Additionally, with the emergence and growth in the popularity of AI software, staying updated and learning about AI is also becoming essential. 

Tip #17: Work on your soft skills 

Working on your technical skills shouldn't overshadow the importance of acquiring soft skills. With the fast-evolving job market with a constant need for development and innovation, employers are searching for creative and flexible minds. Working on your soft skills is significant for your professional and personal life. Revisit your experiences and projects you've worked on during or outside your university. You'll find that you have already acquired many substantial soft skills necessary for today's workplace. 

[Additional Reading: read Top Soft Skills in Resume in 2023 (+ How to Acquire Them) for a detailed list and tips on how to work on your soft skills]

Tip #18: Gain intercultural competence by travelling, studying/working abroad opportunities, and having a diverse circle of connections

Intercultural competence is perhaps something you've already acquired during your studies if you were in an international environment. Regardless, it's a necessary and demanded skill to show as the workforce has become international and diverse. There are ways to gain intercultural competence outside your university. It can be travelling on a budget or, even better, taking up work or study abroad opportunities whenever possible. Moving to a different country teaches you much more than travelling as a tourist could.

However, you don't necessarily need to move across the world. Here too, networking is crucial to meet diverse people from different backgrounds and perspectives and step out of the bubble. You can learn about the global world merely by getting to know others and keeping an open mind about their cultures, background, and ways of communicating, working, and living. 

Tip #19: Disrupt your safe haven

Nothing great ever happens in your comfort zone - you've heard it a lot and there's a reason for that. Don't let yourself choose a path simply because it feels comfortable and challenges scare you. Changing your mindset to perceive challenges as opportunities is one way to not merely survive life after graduation but make it exciting! Now that you have time to focus on things outside your university responsibilities, you can push yourself to do things you haven't done. Experiences that may scare you and make you uncomfortable - in a good way! Start with small changes in your routine and see how it feels.

Tip #20: Take care of your physical and mental health

With so many things to consider after graduation, it's vital to take care of your health. A clear mind will help you make the right choices. Get a membership at your nearest gym - if this option is not for you, check out various group classes or do other sports to unwind. Moving your body instantly improves your mood and makes you feel energised


Trying different relaxation activities such as practising mindfulness, yoga, or simply art and music - anything outside of your career and other daily worries - can drastically improve your overall state of mind.

Tip #21: Build resilience to be prepared for hard work and failures

Life after graduation comes with more responsibilities and hard work that you should prepare yourself for. Be prepared that you might not land your dream job right away and it doesn't necessarily mean that you're lacking something for the position. Finding the right fit and standing out from hundreds of applicants is a tough task. Building thick skin for rejections has become essential as it's easy to get demotivated. Moreover, be open to discovering other positions and companies that may suit you - but know when to say no. It's a two-way process: just like a potential employer is evaluating you, you get to choose which organisation is the right fit for you as well.

Tip #22: Keep your support system close 

One way to help you keep going when it gets harder during the process is by reaching out for support. Needing support doesn't mean you're weak. Keep your family and friends that believe in you close and get all the support you need, even if it's emotional. Sometimes, all you may need to boost your energy are the people that support your path and decisions.

Tip #23: Find a work-life balance that works for you 

When you're planning out your career or evaluating possible positions, it's essential to pay attention to work-life balance. Fresh out of university, you may feel like you're thirsting for that exciting job opportunity. While this energy is just what you need for resilience, you also need to make sure you don't overwork which leads to burnout. Create clear boundaries. You might also want to consider if you'd want an onsite, hybrid, or remote work type and adjust accordingly. One skill that will help you in succeeding is time management

Tip #24: Embrace the new phase of your life

Perhaps the main step you have to remind yourself of is enjoying your life after graduation. It may feel like a lot of pressure. Truth is, the way this new phase of life starts depends a lot on how you look at it. So enjoy the new challenges as they are opportunities to grow, meet new people, and gain new skills and experiences. 

Conclusion

As graduates in 2023, you're entering the competitive and global workforce. It's valuable to take various steps. From planning to practising skills, there are many ways to prepare yourself for the world after university. Importantly, don't forget to take care of your health, energy, and mindset as this is the basis for reaching success.

Are you fresh out of university? Try out one of these tips and see how it helps! 

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