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What to Do Before Starting Your First Job

By Pam O’Brien · June 23, 2023 · 6 minute read

We’re here to help! First and foremost, SoFi Learn strives to be a beneficial resource to you as you navigate your financial journey. Read more We develop content that covers a variety of financial topics. Sometimes, that content may include information about products, features, or services that SoFi does not provide. We aim to break down complicated concepts, loop you in on the latest trends, and keep you up-to-date on the stuff you can use to help get your money right. Read less

What to Do Before Starting Your First Job

If you’re gearing up for your first job post-graduation, you might be feeling a mix of emotions. There’s happiness about landing your new gig, excitement about what’s to come, and some nervousness, too.

And then there are all the practical considerations. You’ll need to budget for your new work life to cover things like commuting and your wardrobe. At the same time, you probably have student loans to pay off, and you’ll want a solid plan in place to manage your debt.

That’s a lot! But not to worry. With a little prep, and by taking a few smart steps, you’ll be set to start your new job and start working toward your financial goals.

Researching the Company

You likely researched your new employer before you accepted the position. Now that you’ve got an official start date, it’s time to dig a little deeper.

Consider learning about the history of the company. And then brush up on what’s ahead. Is there any information about the direction the firm is headed in or any future plans that have been released? Are new products and services about to be launched?

Researching the broader industry could also be beneficial. Search for general trends that are worth noting. What are their biggest competitors working on?

It’s also a good idea to take a look at your network. Do you know anyone who works at the company you could reach out to? Perhaps there is a friend-of-a-friend who might be willing to chat with you before your first day. Getting some information on the company’s culture could help relieve your anticipatory anxiety. Plus, then you’ll have a familiar face to look out for around the office.

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Doing a Dry Run of Your Commute

Worrying and stressing about whether or not you’re going to be on time for your first day is no way to start a job, so do a test run of your new commute. Whether it’s a drive, walk, or bus or train ride, making the commute in advance means you’ll get all of your second guessing, potential detours, and missed turns out of the way.

Plus, this way you can get a sense of the traffic patterns and find out where and when you may need to allow more time. You can also see how much commuting might cost you and figure out ways to pay less for your drive to work.

Planning for the Day Ahead

One good way to destress your morning routine is to prepare everything the night before. Get the coffee ready to go and set on a timer so you don’t have to think about it when you wake up. Plan what to have for breakfast so you’re not scrambling at the last minute.

Choose your clothes for the big day in advance. Try everything on to make sure it fits and that there aren’t any loose buttons. This will save you precious time in the morning.

If you’re not sure what the standard attire is at your new office, err on the side of being more professional than casual. As you get to know the company culture, you can adjust your outfit choices, which could even help you save money on clothes.

Gathering the Appropriate Paperwork

Before you head into the office, you’ll usually get an email from HR with some information about your first day. It’s worth reading through it carefully and gathering any paperwork that might be needed. Organize the documents and pack them in your bag the night before. If you have questions about benefits, holidays, when you’ll be paid, or anything else, jot them all down and bring them with you so you can go over everything with the HR rep.

Getting to Know the Team

You will likely be collaborating with your coworkers on a daily basis, so first impressions matter. Project a friendly, professional, and fully engaged attitude as you meet and interact with your colleagues.

Be receptive and enthusiastic when you get your first assignment. Listen closely and ask your manager questions so you fully understand your responsibilities. Then you can get down to work.

Updating (Or Creating) Your Financial Plan

Some of the other important work-related changes you’ll need to make involve getting your financial life in shape. You can start by:

Refining Your Budget

A new job means a new salary, which makes this a good time to update or create a budget. Consider making adjustments based on your new salary. If you don’t have an existing budget in place, this could be the perfect time to add some structure to your spending and saving.

If you’re moving to a new city for the job or into a new apartment, it’s wise to start planning for all those moving costs now.

Planning for Future You

Next, focus on building your financial security. Carefully review the options your new company offers for retirement savings. Do they have a 401(k)? And if so, do they offer matching contributions?

Saving for retirement might not be on your radar right now, but it’s never too early to start prepping for your future. Sign up to contribute to your employer’s 401(k) plan, and contribute at least enough for the company to match your contributions.

Handling Debt

As a recent graduate, you likely have student loans you’re paying off. If that’s the case, part of your financial strategy could include figuring out if your current repayment plan is the best one for you—or if there’s one out there that might be a better fit.

The repayment plan you choose will depend on a variety of factors, including the types of student loans you have, the amount of debt, and your income and profession. If you have federal student loans, you might be eligible for repayment options including income-driven repayment plans, federal student loan consolidation, or loan forgiveness.

It’s also worth seeing if your new company offers assistance to employees repaying student loans. A growing number of employers have such programs. If yours is one of them, find out how you can get some help repaying what you owe.

If paying off student loan debt quickly is a priority for you, consider putting any windfalls, like a signing bonus, toward your student loans.

Another option to think about is student loan refinancing. For qualifying borrowers, refinancing could offer better terms, which could potentially lead to savings. But refinancing may not be for everyone. When federal loans are refinanced they become private loans and are no longer eligible for federal repayment plans or protections, such as the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program.

If you decide that refinancing is beneficial for you, you’ll want to shop around for the best deal. SoFi offers student refinancing loans with low fixed and variable interest rates, flexible terms, and no fees. Plus, SoFi members get free perks like career coaching and financial advice.

Learn what student loan refinancing can do for you, and get prequalified with SoFi in just two minutes.

SoFi Student Loan Refinance
If you are a federal student loan borrower, you should consider all of your repayment opportunities including the opportunity to refinance your student loan debt at a lower APR or to extend your term to achieve a lower monthly payment. Please note that once you refinance federal student loans you will no longer be eligible for current or future flexible payment options available to federal loan borrowers, including but not limited to income-based repayment plans or extended repayment plans.

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Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.


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