Life after graduation isn't always rosy, but it doesn't have to be all doom and gloom. (Illustration by Kristen Lucius, Minneapolis College of Art and Design)

Fall graduation is fast approaching, and for many graduating this semester, commencement into the real world snuck up from around the corner. With such little time left it feels like there is still a world left of college to explore.

Many college graduates have reported having regrets from their days in college, whether it was from picking a major they do not like, or simply wishing they could change some of their choices from their higher education days. However, that shouldn’t be how a graduating individual feels while reflecting on their college experiences. Rather, graduation is a time of joy, accomplishment and a moment of new opportunities.

Luckily, there are plenty of ways to prepare for the transition from college student into the real world. Beat those pre-graduation fears with these five things to do before graduating in December.

1. Build a Network

Networking with businesses or individuals is all about meeting the right people to further your prospects at a career. According to Michael Goldberg at The Huffington Post, there are five reasons you network: generating more business, helping individuals land a job, creating a social dialogue, becoming a learning opportunity and potentially helping solve future, or current, problems.

Networking is one of those things that college students seldom think of. Students may go to a career showcase or have an internship during their time at college, but many simply let networking opportunities pass by. Networking with business professionals, campus faculty or even small business owners down the street is as easy as going to a social event for your campus club — they function with the same premise, just different end goals.

2. Finish That Internship

Internships are a form of networking and are an opportunity that can boost your candidacy for a job after graduation. Companies are always looking for individuals who have already gotten their feet wet in the field.

According to Penny Loretto with The Balance Careers, completing an internship while in school can potentially lead to a valuable reference letter, or potentially a job offer. Regardless of the outcome of an internship, having one while in school will lead to a useful learning experience that helps prepare students for the working world.

3. Line Up Some “Adult” Jobs

Most students do not think about getting a job until after graduation, and that is okay. However, lining up a job before graduation can help relieve some of that post-graduation stress. William Arruda, with Forbes, argues that student loan debt is increasing and 44 percent of college graduates remain underemployed. Thus, it is extremely important that students line up a job for after graduation. While this puts pressure on students during their senior year, looking for a job that pays more than minimum wage for after graduation will alleviate long-term stress.

Brian Kruegar with CollegeGrad writes that you can land a job by graduation in six simple steps: knowing what you want to do, developing a thoughtful resume, finding out who is hiring, preparing for the interview, getting an internship and starting to interview for prospective jobs as early as possible.

4. Meet with an Advisor

From the start of your first year up until graduation, you will hear the words “meet with an advisor” constantly, which you will likely ignore.  However, academic advisors can actually help students in many situations.

The University of Nevada came up with five reasons students should meet with their academic advisors. The first two points they make include graduation plans for students. The idea is that students will meet with their advisors to help them stay on track for graduation; plus, advisors can help students visualize the best plan in order to meet their end goal.

5. Start Saving Money, Now

Saving money is typically the last thing on a college students’ mind, especially on a Friday night while they are hitting the bars, but saving is exactly the thing college students should start thinking about. After graduation there is no telling what is going to happen, especially financially.

Students already take on a huge financial debt when they take out student loans. After college, some students will take a gap year before continuing their higher education or getting a job within their career. That leaves a financial hole in their wallets. Americasaves stresses that saving in college will not only help students while they are still in college, but also when students are aware of their finances it will help them save for the future.

Graduation does not have to include impending doom of what’s next for students. Rather, students should take their time to figure out a plan and know what they can do while they still have some time in order to better prepare for their future.

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