Tips for the post-graduate

By Abigail Fowler
For The Arkadelphian

Congratulations to all you post grads! You’ve done it! So…. Now what? Do you have a job that applies to your degree? How do you do taxes? When do you have to start worrying about insurance?

As someone who graduated OBU less than 10 years ago (you can bet I’m not going to give you the opportunity to guess my age via a timeline), I know it can be confusing, but these tips will definitely help!

1. Work on the side in your dream industry for free. Will you have a service job for this summer? Will you start a 40 hour a week receptionist role? Wish you had spent more time in school getting experience rather than college-based extra curriculars? Well it’s not too late. Honestly, if you’re in your 30’s and still don’t have experience in your field, it is extremely unlikely you’ll be hired for what you got your degree in. By that point employers are looking for experience, not the BA.

This might sound tough, but you’re adults; you can handle this news. You’re coming from a place of arrogance if you think people should pay you $20 an hour in your dream job simply because you have a piece of paper. College is around to teach you HOW TO LEARN. Take one of my fields, graphic design, they teach you different art forms, they teach you the programs, they teach you thought processes, they teach you how to apply your knowledge, but they CANNOT teach you how your day-to-day at a 9-5 will look. Everyone’s work is different. That’s why experience is a must.

The max you’re allowed to work unless you get paid overtime is 40 hours a week. That leaves 128 hours each week to do something else. If you did remote work in your dream industry at your own time-frame, you could fit a second 40-hour work week in and still have 88 hours of rest time in your week. Depending on your lifestyle, you currently have the least responsibilities, least amount of restrictions (unless you went to college at the age of 12), and the most amount of energy than you will have for the rest of your life. Are you going to spend that partying every weekend and develop liver issues? Or are you going to get your dream job by 24 and be set own multiple companies or retire by the age of 40?

Experience is your new “degree” and the best way to get it is by being willing to work pro-bono. You’ll gain trust and credibility by your dedication to the job, you will be allowed to choose the amount of hours you want to volunteer rather than being tied down, and most of the time people give you more access to learning trade secrets when they know you’re working for them with no “angles” about personal gain.

2. Taxes are king. We all work with them in mind. When your parents can no longer claim you as a dependent, you must do taxes on your own. There are 2 options: do them yourself or hire an accountant.

For these first few years, you’ll want someone to double check your work if you’ve done it on your own. There can be major issues down the line if you did your taxes wrong and the IRS feels cheated. Keep all records of taxes in both a secure digital and print forms. I know digital is standard, but after reading the Clinton/ Patterson collab., “The President is Missing,” after reading Hillary’s post-election memoirs, you’ll be second guessing that stability. If the IRS ever comes, you’ll want all your old records. This isn’t a semester assignment you can chunk when you’re done.

If you hire an accountant, confide in them what your future goals are. They can give you advice on prepping your taxes to give you the most ethical benefits in the future. For example, if you’re an artist and sell work to friends on the side, becoming an LLC for that side gig means you can write all art supplies off of your taxes as well as all dinners you have with friends while discussing projects they’re hiring you to do. It’s called a business meeting and is tax exempt. That my friends, is how I got to attend the Derek Jeter signing ceremony and game at Yankee Stadium front row behind the batter’s box as a plus one for my date who was a Wall Street financier. By NYC standards at least, if business is discussed most of the time, any location can be counted as a business meeting and, therefore, a business expense and tax write off. You’re welcome.

If you use an accountant, try to get taxes to them by January. They will hate you for a few weeks if you wait till April. Some of your employers may not give you your tax info until February, so make a list of all the incomes and expenses you acquired (including non-profit donations). That way, you can check them off as the 1099’s come in the mail and not forget something that needs to be filed.

3. Remember: Insurance is Looming. For the most part, you should be covered by your parent’s insurance by the age of 26. Don’t let this lull you into a false sense of security. This means by the age of 26 you either need a job that gives you insurance, you need to file for the government program, or you need to marry someone in a job that has family-wide healthcare. It’s all a game of chance until you sprain your ankle and question why you didn’t move to Canada earlier for their free healthcare.

Everything might seem overwhelming and confusing right now. Just keep in mind: if you didn’t get hired this spring, most places won’t be hiring again until September because everyone is out of office on vacation sporadically so in-office decision making is nearly impossible. Find a job that works for the next 3 months, find a way to gain experience in what you want to do, and keep applying.

Congratulations — you’ve got this. 

Categories: People, Voices

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