5 Things to Add to Your Graduation Checklist

5 Things to Add to Your Graduation Checklist

After years of preparation, the time has finally come to show those bosses who’s the best in the game. Before you begin to apply for jobs, there are a few considerations you should think about to make sure you are looking on point.  

These checkpoints may differ depending on what field you are going into, but having the most content to show employers about your time here is the best way to prepare.

1. Personal branding

Linkedin and social media accounts

The fantastic thing about this website is that it is useful in any career field. An online profile is essential these days for when employers wish to find you in a search engine (Yes, they WILL look). While this won’t get the job for you, it will open you up to job opportunities and an ability to build connections with people who share your same professional interests.

Some people even use this platform as their online resume. Likewise, clean out your online profiles on other social media channels. If it is not something you would want your great-grandmother to see, it shouldn’t be available for employers to see. (Hint: If you want to keep your social life private, switch your accessibility settings to private mode.)


Show them what you’re made of! A portfolio is a way to show off the work you have completed toward your chosen industry.

This can be accomplished in many ways, whether that be through a physical document or an online website. Some students even use Instagram pages to show off their art, volunteer work or accredited experiences.

Resume/cover letters

The most important document you prepare, usually, will be your resume. Resumes can come in all different shapes, sizes and colors depending on what industry you plan to enter, so take a look at example resumes from people in your intended field. 

A resume and cover letter should be tailored to each specific job you apply for, so you may end up with multiple versions. 

2. Preparation for the workforce 

A great resource to use that will have you leaving college with a killer resume is MTSU’s Career Development Center. Set up an appointment and ask them to review your documents. A second glance is always a good idea! 

They also provide multiple career fairs and tips as to how to job search. Take a look at the center’s upcoming event schedule. They also have an online guide curated to help you build out your resume and cover letter.

 Start talking to employers right away, because the sooner the better! If you are career-ready and want to begin working immediately after graduation, it is a good idea to begin searching and applying for professional positions at the beginning of and throughout your last semester. 

Some popular job application sites to hit up are Linkedin, Glassdoor, Indeed, ZipRecruiter, Monster, SimplyHired, CareerBuilder, Snagajob, LinkUp,,, and even Google for jobs!

The most pivotal part of your graduation prep will be interview practice. If you are a naturally gifted interviewee, then you can skip this part … or practice anyway! You want to make sure you are walking into a challenge that you are ready for, so looking up commonly asked interview questions for your career field and practicing your responses can possibly give you the confidence you need to land that dream job.

Pro tip: Glassdoor provides interview questions from current and previous employees at companies. You can search for a desired company and begin your investigation.

3. Use your resources

Now, more than ever, is the time to take advantage of all of the cool amenities that MTSU has for enrolled students! Our university offers many free activities and benefits that you will not have access to once you graduate. So, before then, you MUST check out the following:

• Makerspace in the James E. Walker Library, which is equipped with staff ready to train you on the available machinery and media applications that are free for you to use! The possibilities are endless here, and you can find a list of their equipment here.

• The full Adobe Creative Cloud suite on Mac computers in Walker Library.

• Free electronic access to the New York Times.

• The Campus Rec Center’s rock climbing wall.

• Middle Tennessee Outdoor Pursuits, aka MTOP.

• MTSpare movie nights.

• Remember to flash your MT ID at local restaurants to receive those discounts!

4. Begin to save some cash

Picture this: you’re on your own, with a new job, and won’t receive a paycheck for another two weeks to a month. Having even a small amount saved for the “just in case” situations can tremendously lighten the pressure of entering the adult financial world. 

We often carelessly spend. No more time for that. Below are some fast ideas for hiding away that cash💸 until May and actually following through with it.


If your income is mostly cash, select a bill ($5, $10, $20, whichever you can afford) and put away any of these you come across. For example, save every $5 bill you make, whether that is two bills or seven bills. This method has worked for many college students that I know.


Select a comfortable amount of money to put back EACH paycheck and stick to it! Shooting for even $10 to $50 per week will allow for that cash to stack up.


Take notice of what you spend most of your money on, and cut back on the things you can do without. Make sure that you give every dollar a “home.”

For example, if you eat out multiple times per week, try limiting that to one or two times per week and eat at home for the rest. You would be amazed at how much money you can save if you threw it into your bank account instead of your appetite!


Those old skates in your attic, that expensive jacket you never wear, the furniture you don’t need, or the old books you bought freshman year? Get rid of ‘em! Graduation is a fresh start for you to get rid of what you don’t need to take with you into your new chapter, so you might as well make some money from it, right?

Send graduation announcements

Send out graduation announcements to family and hope they decide to attend and donate. You never know if your Great-Aunt Wilma will gift you a $20.

5. Graduation day 🎓

Now comes the fun part! You have been working hard for years and this is your day to celebrate YOURSELF!

Make sure you have your day-of plans in order. Who would you like to be there? Give your friends, family and mentors your graduation schedule in advance and ask them to participate. If you wish to throw a party, take some time to have fun and plan it out. 

Make sure you know where and when to pick up your cap and gown; they are FREE. Are you going to embrace your ✨extra✨ side and decorate your cap? Lastly, double-check that your diploma information is correct before the specified due dates to avoid information change fees. 


Author Margaret Mahaffey is a senior at MTSU, majoring in video and film production in the College of Media and Entertainment and minoring in marketing and fashion merchandising. The views and opinions expressed above are her own.