Alumni share tips for navigating life after college

by rcnewsblog on February 28, 2013

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Justin and Amy Thomas, co-founders of Playing Grownup Inc.

Two Roanoke College graduates shared advice on everything from finances to continuing relationships after college during a recent seminar at Roanoke.

Justin and Amy Thomas, who are co-founders of Playing Grownup Inc., led an interactive seminar last week to offer tips to students about navigating life after college.

The Thomases shared stories of the challenges they faced in financing, paying student loans and building relationships after college.

The couple began the seminar with a brief overview of their journey and the adrenaline rush that sparked their new company into high gear.

After they graduated from Roanoke, the couple began their careers in Durham, N.C. Justin Thomas ‘06 worked in private management for a software company, while Amy Thomas ‘07 was a bookkeeper. Later, they moved to Ireland for Justin to earn his MBA at University College Dublin. They moved back to the United States this year and decided to launch Playing Grownup, a non-profit organization.

The pair plans to cover more than 10,000 miles in a nationwide RV tour this semester to give Playing Grownup seminars at other campuses.

“We know that our story isn’t the only story or the best, but we think that it’s helpful to share it with other students,” said Justin Thomas.

From the start, the audience directed the path of the discussion. Via text message, participants chose from four categories, including the first day at work, investing and student loans, financials and taxes.

The Thomases talked about various financial topics, including student loans, explaining that loans can be worrisome after college, but there are programs, such as the Peace Corps and Teach for America, that offer discounts.

Justin Thomas said it is important to start saving for retirement early.

Also, as for budgeting, “You have to know what’s coming in and what’s coming out,” said Amy Thomas. “A great system called mint.com, allows you to categorize and know where you’re spending your money.”

The couple suggested that students talk with their parents before graduating from college to know how long they will receive financial help.

“You have to make the separation and grow up at some point,” said Amy Thomas.

The couple also advised students to check their credit scores at least once a year.

“With a credit card you want to use it, even if it’s a pack of gum, just to show the credit card company you can pay it off,” said Amy Thomas.

The Thomases said they enjoy saving money and investing, but they also realize that it is important to give to charities and other non-profit organizations.

The couple also discussed different relationships after college, with a focus on work friendships.

“Think of it as your freshman year part 2. Get in the right mindset and invest in people,” said Justin Thomas.

Brittany Piro ’16 won $100 in a giveaway from Playing Grownup to be used to start her retirement account.

“I think that a lot of us took away just the knowledge of what to expect after graduation and what to expect in a job setting,” Piro said. “It was really helpful knowing what to prepare for when it comes to taxes, budgeting and everyday personal finances.”

-By Morgan Conroy ’14

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