What I did after college: lessons from the workplace for graduates
With 60 per cent* of graduates choosing to build their career rather than travel or further study, financial planning for working graduates has become increasingly important
Career moves: ‘You really don’t think about the cost of living and working, until you have to.’ Photograph: iStock
Graduating is an incredible experience. You can feel proud of your hard work, you have achieved your goals and finally have options that will shape your future. But which option is the right one? For most graduates, they have one of three main roads to follow: go straight into building a career, jump on a plane and explore the world or go on to postgraduate study in a masters or PhD programme.
It can all seem daunting, but recent research shows that for more than 60 per cent of Irish graduates* the choice has been to get your career started. It’s not surprising – after years of studying you finally have the chance to get your foot on the workplace ladder, and that’s an attractive proposition. You will finally be earning some money and be able to live a little.
However, many graduates find the reality is quite different, with the cost of even starting a job enough to make them wish for a return to student life. We speak to two graduates who explained the leap from student to worker, and hear from Rory Carty, head of Youth Banking at Bank of Ireland, on some recommendations on managing your finances.
Maya Lynch (21)
For Maya Lynch, the cost of starting her career was much more than she expected, but being an independent person she was determined to make it work. Her advice would be to manage your finances and be prepared to work hard to build your career.
I decided to walk to work because it was going to save me so much money
“I was taken on part-time about two months before I finished college as I only had two days of classes per week at that stage. I went fulltime with them when I finished. I was so relieved when I got the job as I wasn’t sure what I was going to do next – continue to masters or work. I wanted a break from studying and college is so expensive.
“I’m from Westmeath and when in college I stayed with family in Dublin and only started renting when I got the job. The deposit was a month’s rent so that was a big chunk.
“You really don’t think about the cost of living and working until you have to. I used to wear casual clothes all the time in college but then I had to go out to buy work clothes, blouses, shoes, skirts and trousers, so that was quite expensive at the beginning. I work in Dublin, so lunches out are very expensive too.
“I decided to walk to work because it was going to save me so much money. I try to get stuff from my mum when I’m home at weekends, but I like to stand on my own two feet and I aim to pay for everything myself.”
Aishling O’Shea (22)
Aisling O'Shea knew that getting a foothold in the events industry wasn’t going to be easy but she was determined to make it work. Her advice is to be informed about the industry you are trying to get into and prepare for that. It can be expensive but worth it if it’s for a job you love.
Getting into events was about getting a foot in the door and getting experience under my belt, so I wanted to get straight into it
“I started off in a newspaper in Mayo then moved to Galway where I work for the Galway races. When I started in Mayo I was living at home so there weren’t huge costs there, but when I moved to Galway it hit home.
“Paying for accommodation and shopping, it’s a big difference from when you are in college. The little extras hit you, for example, when you’re in college bills like electricity are paid for but when you move into your own place you’re paying for wifi, electricity, heat - things you wouldn’t have thought about before.
“When I started the job in Galway I had to dress appropriately, so I overhauled my wardrobe. I spent a good few hundred on clothes because you’d need to swap it up, you wouldn’t want to wear the same thing every day.
“In events it’s hard to get your foot in the door but then as you gain more experience, you climb up the ladder and your salary reflects that. But starting off you would be a bit hand-to-mouth. I am lucky enough to be in a house with a fair few people so my rent probably isn’t as bad as others but we still need to watch what we are spending in order to make sure we have enough to cover all the basics. You definitely look to shop in places that might have deals or offers, for example when you spend a certain amount, you get money off.
“In terms of travelling, I was mindful that getting into events was about getting a foot in the door and about getting experience under my belt so I wanted to get straight into it. I am happy that I went that route and I wouldn’t change a thing.”
Rory Carty, head of Youth Banking at Bank of Ireland, promotes some practical tips for staying on top of your money..
Create a budget
Work out how much money you will have coming in. List all of the essential items: rent, gas, electricity, wifi, food, transport, etc, and their cost along with all your optional spending. You can use your last three months of bank statements and receipts to guide you.
Learn when you go off track
If and when your budget does go off track, don't just ask yourself how, ask yourself why? A glance at a bank statement will tell you what you spent your money on. Regardless of what income you are earning it really is how well you manage it that really matters. This applies equally to budgeting, saving, spending and investing.
Set your money goals
What do you want to achieve with your money? Simply starting out might seem like a big enough challenge, right now, but remember to take time to plan longer term goals.
If you’re taking the first steps in your career, Bank of Ireland can help you. Go for it with a range of graduate banking offers to help you get started. For more, visit Boi.com/grad.
Bank of Ireland is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland.
* Source: ‘What Do Graduates Do 2016’ report, Higher Education Authority, hea.ie