New Grad Guide: 4 Tips for Funemployment
Welcome back to Couture In Clinic! If you’re still hanging in there with me after a very long hiatus from blogging, THANK YOU! If you’ve just joined me for the ride, buckle up because things are getting serious. I always like to share things that I wish that I had known before diving head first into the deep end and things that no one (not PA school, not preceptors, not Instagram) prepared me for which is the time in between or the “transition period.” I realize now that a lot of my content has focused on these rather weird stretches of time when your entire routine and social circle changes suddenly and no one really tells you what to do next. For example, undergrad to PA school, clinical year to graduation, student to actual provider.
Someone on my Instagram referred to this period of waiting as “funemployment” but to be honest, it’s not all that fun. The first not so fun milestone is to prepare for and pass the PANCE and if you need some tips on doing just that, click here. If you’ve already passed, had a celebration of your new certification, and are now binging Netflix to avoid thinking about what comes next, keep reading.
For most people, student loans have not only paid for tuition, but also paid the bills. Most programs do not allow students to work during school or clinical year. Basically the week after graduating, I got an email from the Department of Education alerting me that my school had reported that I’d graduated and that I would have to start paying back my loans in exactly 6 months (like thanks a lot, school).
1. If you’re reading this prior to taking out loans, I suggest calculating to have enough left over for 1-4 months after graduating for existing bills and any emergencies that might come up.
While you’re not using these “cushion-funds” I recommend moving them all into a high interest savings account where they can sit for at least 2 years (or 4 for medical school) and accrue a couple hundred bucks in interest. It’s free money so why not? Only dip into that account when you absolutely have to and try to leave at least a little leftover even after beginning a new job for peace of mind. Think of it as your cash safety net that you can always keep adding to!
If you really have to, you can also open a 0% interest credit card to pay for PANCE, licensing, DEA license fees, and any other costs associated with becoming job ready.
2. Some jobs will reimburse you for professional fees and you can quickly pay off the card and close the account. Be sure to ask about that when negotiating your benefits.
I am very leery of credit cards and to be honest, still do not have one to this day. Aside from my student loans of course, I operate on Dave Ramsey’s number 1 rule: if you can’t purchase it in cash, you can’t afford it. This is particularly true as a student and a brand new graduate but hey, if you need to go the credit card route, a 0% interest for one year card is the way to go. Just make sure you do pay the balance before the interest rate skyrockets after the promotion period. This method also helps you hold on to your cash safety net.
In today’s gig economy, there are so many ways to make a little money on the side. If you have a reliable vehicle, drive for Uber or Lyft on nights and weekends. If you don’t like the thought of strangers in your car, try UberEats or PostMates. I’m a Shipt shopper and it’s a great gig, customers are typically generous with their tips and you get paid to shop at Target. Hellloo, it’s the perfect hustle for me! If you like dogs, you can get paid for walking them with Wag or babysitting them with Rover. If you don’t like dogs, please unfollow me. ;)
3. Find your perfect side hustle while you write up your cover letters and spruce up your resume (more on that later!)
Lastly, depending on where you’re practicing, actually obtaining a license can be an excruciatingly slow process. Some states make it an easy online application without many hurdles. Others require snail mailed paperwork, notarized documentation, and a single feather from the tail of a phoenix. (If you appreciated that reference, please DM me so we can be friends.) The timing of when you apply for your license can be super important too as some places hold board meetings before approving applications and require certain documents at certain times. Long story short, it can be a huge headache and seriously delay your job readiness. Of course there is also a fee to apply for a license so be prepared for that.
4. I recommend checking with the licensing board in the state that you want to practice in and get all the deets 1-2 months prior to graduating.
Remember, there is no shame in moving back in with your parents or relying on your significant other to keep you afloat until your first paycheck. If there is one thing I’ve learned about graduate student finances throughout the smart moves and the mistakes it’s that you have to play the long game. Better decisions up front can save thousands of dollars in the end! Ari says “happiness is the same price as red bottoms,” and tbh, I' need to find out for myself!
Thanks for spending some time in my little corner of the web! I have so much to share with you all in terms of applying and interviewing for jobs so stay tuned! If you have a question, drop it in a comment below!