Randy Forbes: A Toolkit for Recent Grads

randy forbesThis spring, students across the country are walking across stages, clad in caps and gowns, proud to celebrate their educational accomplishments. But once the celebration and the graduation parties end, many graduates are also left feeling a bit overwhelmed by the responsibilities that await.

My office has built a Toolkit for Recent Grads, designed to provide resources that many graduates might need as they think about their lives beyond school and seek to set themselves up for success. Perhaps you have a son or daughter or grandchild who just graduated. Perhaps you know a neighbor or a member of your church youth group who recently graduated. I encourage you to forward this information to them.

 

Job Searching

It’s no secret that – although improving slightly – it is hard for new graduates to find good jobs. To help in the process, there are many tools available to job seekers, including popular sites like Monster, College Recruiter, and even social networking sites like LinkedIn. The following resources from the federal government may also help in job searching:

USAJobs for Students and Grads. USAJobs offers a listing of jobs in government service. The site includes a dedicated section for students and recent graduates who are considering federal work.

Upcoming Virginia Job Fairs. The Virginia Employment Commission maintains a list of upcoming job fairs in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Go Government. Go Government offers a one stop shop with information on how to find and apply for government jobs. The site includes information on anything from creating a federal resume, finding opportunities for persons with disabilities, exploring opportunities for veterans, and using the USAJobs site.

The Presidential Management Fellows Program. For recent graduates who have a strong academic record and an interest in government service, the Presidential Management Fellows (PMF) Program offers exciting opportunities. The PMF program is a well-respected leadership development program that taps bright minds at the entry level.

The Virginia Education Wizard. For high school graduates looking to work immediately, the Virginia Education Wizard offers free career assessment tools and provides resources to help grads pursue their ideal careers.

 

Managing Finances

Many graduates will begin earning a paycheck for the first time in their lives. Many also find themselves for the first time paying rent, utility bills, and car payments completely on their own. At the same time, the average amount of debt that students carry at graduation is now approximately $27,000. That can be a lot to handle for anyone, and especially for those who have little experience managing finances. The following tools help recent grads to manage finances well from the start.

Preparing a Budget. Smartmoney.org offers articles, resources, calculators and tips to help grads manage their money. The calculators are specific to daily decisions and common emergencies, answering questions like, “How much do I need for emergencies?” or, “How long will it take to pay off my credit card?”

Student Loan Resources. As a standard rule, most federal student loan borrowers are required to start repaying loans within six months of graduation. However, there are a number of options available for individuals who find themselves in a situation of unemployment or inability to pay back federal student loans. I have created this list of resources on federal student loans to help individuals better understand their options for loan repayments and managing student loan debt.

Preparing for Tax Season. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau offers information to help grads prepare for taxes throughout the year, including a worksheet to determine how much to save throughout the year and solutions for filing taxes when it comes time.

10 Common Post Graduate Money Mistakes. This article lists ten common mistakes graduates make in managing their money and includes tips on how to prevent them.

 

Protecting Personal Information

If they haven’t already, recent graduates will begin to open bank accounts, apply for credit cards, and set up auto payments for student loans. It is more important than ever that young people focus on properly protecting personal information as early as possible.

IdentityTheft.gov. The Federal Trade Commission’s identity theft website provides critical step-by-step information detailing what to do if you suspect someone has stolen and may be using your personal information.

Annual Credit Report Request. In addition to regularly monitoring bank and credit card accounts, individuals can request annual credit reports for free at www.annualcreditreport.com.  Many banks and credit unions offer fraud alert programs to signal when unusual activity is detected in the account.

 

Saving for Retirement

It’s never too early to begin thinking about retirement, even for those who’ve just graduated. The benefits of saving now as a recent graduate can be enormous.

Investing Basics. These investing basics from investor.gov provide helpful tips on securing financial well-being, including simple definitions of investment products and how to invest during a first job.

Compounding Interest Basics. Explore the growth of money using the power of compound interest.

10 Ways to Prepare for Retirement. The United States Department of Labor offers ten ways grads (and anyone) can become more informed about retirement options.

For more resources specific to students, graduates, and everyone else, visit the Constituent Resource Center on my website.

Randy Forbes represents Virginia’s Fourth District in Congress.