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Transitioning from College to the Working World: 7 Survival Tips


By Nicole Fallon, Business News Daily Assistant Editor.

For many recent graduates, it can be challenging to make the transition from college student to working professional. Trading in the days of thesis papers, library study sessions and campus parties for a full-time office job is a big change, and students who haven’t worked in this type of environment before may not be fully prepared for the shift.

Recent grads who are starting their first jobs may need to adjust their expectations, said Tres Loch, assistant director of admissions at Rollins College Crummer Graduate School of Business. Loch shared his tips for how to make a smooth, successful leap into the working world.

Expect your social schedule to change.

Working eight or more hours each day takes some getting used to. Don’t expect to be able to go out with friends several nights during the week, or stay up until midnight (or later) every night like you did in college. Early on, create healthy work habits that will contribute to career success. Eat well, get enough sleep and maximize your free time to keep a work-life balance.

Be aware and respectful of generational differences.

The company you’re working for may have a lot of young employees, but this doesn’t necessarily mean your office will be just like your college campus. Be conscious of the negative stigmas associated with “millennials” (lazy, entitled, poor communication skills, social media crazed), and break away from them. Not everyone you work with cares about social media, or even has social media profiles. To build rapport with co-workers from other generations, take interest in things that are important to them rather than talking about who you’re following on Twitter or what happened on the latest Hollywood award show.

Create and stick to a personal budget.

For most new professionals who are used to living on a college-student budget, seeing that huge dollar amount on their first salaried paycheck seems like an invitation to do all the things they couldn’t afford in school — rent a nice apartment, take expensive trips, purchase designer clothes, etc. If you’re out on your own for the first time, it’s important to create a budget to figure out how much disposable income you’ll really have each month after all the bills are paid. If you’re paying off student-loan debt, be especially careful when taking on new debt to finance a large purchase or run up your credit card bills.

Don’t think you’ll get promoted right away.

Of course it can and does happen, but there are many variables that contribute to getting promoted: company size, structure, upward mobility, others leaving, financial health of the company, open opportunities, etc. In some careers, it may be typical to be promoted every couple of years, but in other industries, it may take five years or longer to earn your first promotion. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and your career won’t be either.

Keep challenging yourself.

Every job has some element of repetition, but when you find yourself bored or unchallenged at work, talk to your leaders about taking on additional assignments, getting involved in professional development activities or other ways to expand your involvement with your organization. One of the most effective ways to grow as a professional is to take on projects you haven’t done before or those that challenge you.

Stay true to your values and motivators.

You won’t last long in a job or company that conflicts with your morals and values, or a job that doesn’t motivate you. Make sure you consider your own personality traits before accepting a new job, and continuously evaluate how your job, company and career fit with your beliefs and motivators.

Remember that this job will not be your last.

Spending your entire career with one company is now the exception rather than the rule, so don’t fall in love with your first job or company. You may suddenly find yourself wanting to move on, or your company may hit hard times and face layoffs. It’s important to always be thinking about your next move, even if you enjoy your current position.

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