The Interim Period After Graduation: How Your Spare Time Can Actually Benefit You

graduationVenturing out on my own after graduating from college seemed like a daunting task. The excitement of graduation day has faded, and the reality of a cutthroat work force and the obligation of monthly expenses have set in. The scariest part of this time is that I constantly worry about whether I will be able to land a full-time job in my field.

Despite all of these pressures, this agonizing interim period can actually provide some benefits, as I have recently learned. The transition period into my newfound adulthood has given me time to take care of certain tasks that I would not have been able to complete if I was employed full-time.

1. Organize Your New Apartment or Home

Chances are that you would be living out of boxes if you started working full-time right away. As a part-time worker, I have taken advantage of the extra time on my hands and organized every room in my apartment. I decided to hang up pictures, and I even have a spot picked out for my brand new diploma. It's best to make your place your own. Even if you have returned to your parents house, you will still want to organize your room and perhaps store away old high-school mementos to make room for your college memories.

2. Go Shopping

Shopping for my new apartment for the very first time was bittersweet because of my tight budget. Nonetheless, there were still essentials that I needed to purchase immediately, even if at a discounted price. In order to shop wisely and efficiently, you should make a list of everything you need. This can include large items such as a bed or small things like silverware. Then, shop according to priority. For me, kitchen items were important because I want to develop better eating habits than my dormitory days of ramen noodles and instant easy mac .

3. Complete All Necessary Paperwork

Having moved to a new location after graduation, I was no longer getting my bank statements, credit card bills, or even my favorite store catalogs with timely coupons. Therefore, I submitted a change of address to the post office so that my mail would be forwarded to the correct address. I also changed my driver license at the local department of motor vehicles. This is especially important if you have a car and need to update your information for the insurance company. You will not want to spend your time on long lines at the DMV once you have started working full-time.

4. Apply for Health Insurance

This is a task that will probably seem most inconvenient, but is imperative. Once I received my college diploma, I was no longer covered under my parent's health insurance plan. As a result, I started to investigate my options. If you are not making much money, you can look into state and city health plans. You will need to gather necessary documents such as proof of income, proof of address, and proper identification. Once you have been approved for health insurance, look for a local doctor and dentist in your area that takes your insurance. If you are overdue for a check-up, you can also make an appointment.

5. Make a Budget

After establishing my rent with my landlord and other monthly expenses, I decided to make a budget so that I do not find myself penniless and homeless. I listed my monthly expenses and tried to determine my monthly income, although an exact number is close to impossible as a freelance worker. The important thing is to keep track of your expenses so that you do not find yourself in unnecessary debt.

6. Take Care of Your Student Loan Obligations

Most student loans offer a grace period of at least six months after graduation until they will require repayment. However, you do not want to wait the six months and then decide on a payment plan last minute. I have a number of federal and private student loans and needed to decide on a payment plan. I chose an income-based repayment option, in which payments are based on my current salary. You can also choose other options, such as a fixed monthly payment.

7. Go to the Dry Cleaners

This may seem simple and something that can be done any time, but you would be surprised at the convenience this can offer. I made sure that all of my suits and professional attire were pressed and ready in the event that I was called in for an interview. Have your clothes ready for when you get the phone call you have been waiting for.

8. Get to Know Your New Neighborhood

You may be in a new environment entirely or have returned home after a four-year leave. Either way, you will want to become acquainted with your neighborhood. I took a walk around my new home and decided which grocery store offers the best discounts and which laundromat is closest. You can even get to know the places that fulfill your guilty pleasures, such as a preferred nail salon or the best local barber.

Taking care of these somewhat tedious but still necessary errands can not only help pass the time during your interim period, but also give you more peace of mind once you do start working.

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