Post-Commencement productivity: A summer survival guide

Media Credit: Sophie McTear | Design Editor

Media Credit: Sophie McTear | Design Editor

Morgan Baskin and Tatiana Cirisano | Contributing Culture Editors

For many seniors, the summer after graduation seems like limbo between college and career life. Graduates are caught between savoring those last months with fewer responsibilities and preparing for a new phase of their lives. Here’s how to navigate the transition smoothly and feel more productive in the process.

1. Go to new places – even if they’re nearby.
Your summer plans may never be this carefree – or work-free – again, so set aside a week or more to travel. Go on an adventure with friends before you prepare for graduate school. Solo trips are also a way to see the world on your own schedule.

To save money and explore options, try CouchSurfing, a website that connects travelers with locals willing to house visitors in exchange for lending a hand in the family business, such as farming, domestic work or manufacturing.

But travel doesn’t have to mean trekking across the globe. Instead, buy a travel guide to the new city or state that you’ll soon call home and play tourist for the day. Get acquainted with the transportation system and explore dining and nightlife options, which will help you budget time and money later.

2. Plan your finances
Preparation is key when it comes to managing your money. Take advantage of extra time to outline a budget for the upcoming year, and make sure to include expenses for housing, transportation, groceries and emergencies.

Check out the website and smart phone app Mint. Users can link all credit and savings accounts to one place and get a full picture of when and where they spend money. The app categorizes all transactions and creates a customized budget based on the user’s actual spending, so there’s no need for bookkeeping. Users can also track cash spending with manual transactions and have bill reminders sent to their phones.

For long-term planning, try LearnVest’s M.A.S.H. Calculator, which predicts the approximate income you’ll need to support the lifestyle you want.

If you’re moving to a new city, it’s also a good idea to familiarize yourself with the tax policies you’ll eventually have to deal with come April. Find specific information on your state’s official website.

3. Create a business profile
Try to establish a strong online presence – that doesn’t include social media – when you hunt for jobs. While sites like LinkedIn and Twitter are useful for showing employers your personality and work experience, an online portfolio that features your work could give you an edge.

You can purchase a domain name through WordPress for a user-friendly do-it-yourself site ($18 per year), or hire a designer – perhaps even a fellow GW graduate you trust – to build an aesthetically pleasing portfolio. It’s useful for engineers, business people, writers, artists and almost any other professional.

Once you have an online portfolio, design a business card that includes your cell phone number, email address and website. While minimal designs are always a classy choice, this list will inspire you to create a card that potential clients will remember. Vistaprint offers both free and premium standard business card designs that start at $10 for a pack of 250 and can cost up to $90 for a pack of 2,000 with a “brilliant finish.” Reactor, a graphic design branding firm, does creative freelance contracts.

4. Get cultured – or just relax
When was the last time you watched a television show and didn’t feel like you were procrastinating? Now’s the time to fully relax. Hulu Plus offers subscription services for $7.99 a month as well as a one-week free trial period. After a 30-day free trial period, new Netflix users pay $7.99 a month for SD-quality viewing and $8.99 for HD. Netflix offers almost twice the amount of content as Amazon Prime. But for viewers interested in the latest episodes, more than 50 percent of the shows on Hulu Plus are from their most recent seasons.

Cailley LaPara contributed reporting.

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