Common Mistakes New College Grads Are Making

Congrats to all of the new college grads of 2010! After 4 years of late night study sessions, Doctor’s notes, last minute exam cramming, nervous breakdowns, and never-ending semesters, it’s all finally over! What’s next? Hopefully plenty of riches and good times ahead.

BUT– before you begin the rest of your life, you need to ensure that you don’t make the same mistakes that most college graduates have made:

1. Accepting the first job that comes your way.

I’m not saying this to judge those that work an unrelated job to pay the bills. We all need to pay the bills and I certainly don’t subscribe to the “quit your job” mantra.  I’m referring to the related jobs that:

  • a. Pay a high salary for you to perform a job that you hate.
  • b. Offer absolutely no growth within the company.

It’s too early in your life to get involved in either of the above options. Making lots of money to perform a job that doesn’t drive you will eventually trickle down and affect other areas of your life. You may find yourself coming home from work miserable or over indulging on the weekends. Is this really the life you want in your 20s?

A job with no growth will only leave you feeling stagnant. Too often do I run into old friends that only want to complain about their work. I don’t know about you, but that’s the last thing I want to talk about (miserable work).

2. Being “too good” for a job.

If a major company offers you a lower salary or a lower position within the company, don’t treat this as an insult. One of my marketing professors once told me that he felt insulted when his Marketing Degree got him a job in a mega corporation…working front line sales. He said he hated it at first, but five years later he found himself with front line experience and lucrative office position. The point here? Never look down on a job because of a low starting salary or starting position.

3. Expensive clothing.

I agree that you should dress for the job you want and not the job that you have. This does not justify spending $200 on a new dress shirt or a couple grand on a new wardrobe. I fully support dressing well and feeling good at all times. I, however, don’t support spending a fortune early on in your working life just to look good in your new Armani suit.

4. Spending too much money.

It’s really tempting to start spending all of your new found money. It really is. I’m fairly guilty of this myself. I love to go on trips and I certainly enjoy my entertainment. I’ll skip the preaching that most personal finance bloggers do with the young crow and I’ll just leave a few links for you guys to check out.

Are 20-somethings not saving money?
Money saving techniques that work and do NOT work
Money management advice for college graduates

What other mistakes do you notice young college graduates making? Please share with us…

3 thoughts on “Common Mistakes New College Grads Are Making”

  1. I completely agree with this. I definitely liked the point about how the last thing you want to talk about is how bad your job is. I just dont understand people who dont like their job but continue to talk about it (as if it’s the only thing to talk about). Why continue wasting precious time that you have outside of work to talk about work?!
    Good point on the wardrobe too. Spending too much money on that can handicap you in the future, and most likely will if you dont land the job

  2. These are excellent tips. I think it is like going on a fast for a week and then having access to an all you can eat buffet. Many recent grads with their first job go from zero to very little income to suddenly, having a nice paycheck coming in. But they underestimate how much many things in life cost (i.e., rent, cars, healthcare, etc) so that net income is going to be chomped down. So any big purchases like a car should definitely be put aside for at least a year or so.

    Also, recent grads should see what kind of retirement plans they have with their company. Starting early can make up for poor investments down the road.

  3. I’d say that as a first job, try to find a big company.

    If you get hired by a huge corporation, you will make several connections and you won’t be stuck in a department that you don’t like.

    As it is hard to know exactly what you want to do in life when you are early in your 20’s, you should seek for job position giving your a lot of latitude in term of career paths.

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