I’m Getting a Job
If you decide to get a full-time job after college, then you’re like approximately 58% of other graduates in the United States, according to a report [pdf] from the National Association of Colleges and Employers. Getting a full-time job can mean lots of changes. You now have a regular schedule to follow that may involve getting up early (yawn!) and may not be as flexible as your college schedule. Pay attention to your workplace culture to learn the ins and outs of thriving in your full-time job. Keep reading for other tips for coping with the change to full-time employment.
For many people, college is an easy time to make friends. You spend time with people in class, student organizations, roommates, and more—it’s like a built-in social network. After graduation, there are several ways you can find people you have things in common with to build your friend network:
- Join a sports team or volunteer organization. You can find like-minded people who enjoy being active and giving back. Find something you’re really interested in and passionate about, or explore something new.
- Join your school’s alumni association. Depending on your school and where you live, they might have a local alumni chapter where you’re living.
- Hang out with people from work, especially if there are other young people you work with. You may want to set some boundaries between work and play, but being friends with people from work can help not only socially, but also help you to cope with the stressors from work.
Finding Your Support Network
These could be friends you already have or your family back home. It might also be new people you meet who can support you with more than just social changes. For example, your neighbor might be willing to make you a home-cooked meal when you’re feeling homesick. Or maybe a friend from work can lend an ear if you’re struggling with finding things to do in your new town. You can also stay in touch with distant friends and family through social media or video chatting.
Checking Out Local Services
If you’re in a new city, explore all that your town has to offer!
- Become a local tourist. Visit all the local tourist stops and do some sightseeing tours. This is a fun way to learn about your city and see what’s available for residents.
- Get a library card. You’ll have access to a ton of free services, like borrowing books and movies, free wifi, and free computer access.
- Buy a membership. If your town has a zoo, amusement park, museum, or other attraction, you could purchase a membership so you always have something to do. Some places may offer a discount for new college graduates or young professionals. Make sure you include the membership in your budget. This can also be a fun activity to do when people come to visit you.
If you’re in a familiar city, there might be new things you didn’t know existed. Check out your city’s tourist website (if it has one) or even the chamber of commerce for new things to do. A quick web search can also help you identify new services, resources, and events you may not have known about.
Finding Support if the Adjustment Is Difficult
If you find that you’re having a hard time adjusting to life post-college, you may want to talk to a mental health professional, such as a counselor or therapist. A mental health counselor can help you identify new coping techniques and could help you brainstorm ways to manage the changes you’re experiencing. If you have health insurance, your plan might cover mental health services.
Getting Health Insurance Coverage
Having health insurance is essential. You may be healthy now, but accidents and illnesses can arise at any time; health insurance also provides coverage for important preventive measures.
It’s important that you understand the basics about health insurance and what your options are. If you are under the age of 26 and your family has health insurance, you may be able to stay on their plan. Did you know that you can join a parent’s plan and stay on it even if you:
- Get married
- Have or adopt a child
- Start or leave school
- Live in or out of your parent’s home
- Aren’t claimed as a tax dependent
- Turn down an offer of job-based coverage
For more information about getting on or staying on your family’s plan Healthcare.gov: How to Stay on Your Parent’s Plan.
If you’re starting a new job, your new employer will likely have insurance options that you will need to navigate. You can talk to someone in Human Resources about the coverage that is provided, if you choose to utilize it.
Select a Primary Care Provider
In addition to enrolling in a health insurance plan, you may need to find a primary care provider (PCP), especially if you have moved to a new area. A PCP is who you would visit for things like treatment for illnesses (like a sinus infection), annual physicals, and referrals for specialty providers. It’s a good idea to get established with a PCP as soon as you get medical coverage. That way, when you’re feeling sick or need an appointment, it may be easier to get something scheduled. Your PCP should be your first call if you need non-emergency health care. Here are some tips for finding a PCP in your area:
- Check with your insurance plan for a list of in-network primary care providers who accept their insurance payments
- Co-workers and other new friends where you are living might be able to provide a recommendation
- If you identify as LGBTQ+, the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association (GLMA) has a provider referral page for clinicians who have identified themselves as being LGBTQ-inclusive. Check your health insurance coverage to see who is in-network.
- Use online tools like the SAMHSA Treatment Locator or Psychology Today’s Find a Therapist tool to search for mental health professionals in your area. Just like with a PCP, it’s a good idea to get established with a mental health provider early on.
After you identify a new health care provider, you’ll want to transfer the medical records from your student health center to your new provider’s office. Your school likely has instructions for requesting medical records. Follow these instructions for sending your records to your new clinician. If you’re able, you might want to keep a copy for yourself so you have them in case of emergency.
More tips can be found here.