Transitioning out of school

Preparing to graduate and take the next step in your career is an exciting time, marking many milestones and accomplishments. It’s also an important transition period that marks a segue from student life to the “real world.”

As you prepare to transition out of school, there are many important things to consider. The OGE has prepared this guide to help you navigate preparing to leave school, find and start a new job or graduate program, and take the next step in your career.

Thinking about your next step

For some of you, the next step in your career may be an obvious one. For others, the path may not be as clear. Know that both of these situations are perfectly normal and okay. MIT seeks to provide advising and support resources for all students as they chart their course after school.

MIT’s Career Advising & Professional Development (CAPD) office provides a number of resources for students:

Navigating job offers

Getting a job offer is, of course, the first step and a huge accomplishment. But once you have a job offer, there’s a number of factors to consider. Here are two of the largest considerations that relate to the Financial Literacy Initiative’s mission:


One of the biggest mistakes many students make is not being willing to negotiate their job offer. Many employers are willing to negotiate terms of an offer and, although it may seem daunting, students shouldn’t be afraid to negotiate terms. If done tactfully, negotiating a job offer can be very beneficial to you and help you start off on the right foot with your new employer.

We encourage students to check out the MIT Career Advising & Professional Development (CAPD) guide to job offer negotiation.

Understanding benefits packages

Another key mistake that students make when evaluating a job offer (or comparing multiple offers) is focusing exclusively on salary. Many job offers also contain extensive and varied benefits packages that are important to understand.

Two of the most significant benefits that many employers offer are insurance coverage and retirement savings packages:

  • Insurance. There are many types of insurance that companies may offer — medical, dental, vision, life, disability, etc. It’s important to consider the financial and other implications of different insurance benefits. Here’s a few resources to better understand health insurance offerings:
  • Retirement benefits. Many employers offer some sort of retirement benefits or other financial incentives, which can include 401(k) or 403(b) plans, pension plans, stock options, and others. These benefits can have significant financial value, especially if an offer includes an employer match or other direct financial incentive for retirement savings. Here’s a few resources to better understand different retirement savings plan options:

Employers often offer these additional benefits, among others:

  • Bonus. Many jobs include an opportunity to earn an annual bonus, which can sometimes comprise a significant portion of one’s total annual compensation. It’s important to understand expectations around bonuses as well as how they are determined.
  • Higher education benefits. Student loan repayment assistance and tuition reimbursement for ongoing education are two types of benefits that are growing in popularity.
  • Other financial benefits. Many employers offer discounted gym memberships, public transportation or parking reimbursements, overtime pay, and other financial benefits.
  • Additional considerations. These can include job location, the ability to work remotely, flexible work hours, vacation and family leave, job growth opportunities, and others.

As you can see, there are many possible components of a job offer and benefits package, and they can vary widely. It’s important to spend time understanding your specific job offer(s) and make sure you are comparing the totality of different offers and not just salaries.

In addition to the information here, there are many resources available to help individuals understand benefits packages. Some of these include the following:

The cost of living off-campus

As you prepare to graduate and start a career, it’s important to prepare for the different costs associated with living in the “real world.” Many students may not have experience finding an apartment and moving in, paying rent to a landlord, filing taxes, paying utilities, buying groceries regularly, or having to make student loan payments.

Finding an apartment

Finding an apartment can be an exciting, but stressful, experience. We recommend starting early and taking the time to prepare a plan, gather the necessary documents, and evaluate your options. Below we link to a few resources which may help you navigate the apartment search process:

Preparing a financial plan

It’s critical to spend some time cataloging the full costs of living on your own and preparing a financial plan, so you can begin your career with confidence. We encourage students to review the content available on the Financial Literacy Initiative site and then spend some time developing a financial plan for post-graduation, including: