Transitioning into the “real world” from college can be tricky.
I’ve recently experienced that transition and feel qualified enough to mention a few things to consider regarding YOUR career:
Be a sponge. Absorb any and every kind of information. That’s all you need to do right now. Slow to speak and quick to listen!
– Build your foundation
That first job is your first shot at building your career foundation. Make it count. Work hard and do whatever it takes to gain the confidence of your boss. However, make sure you know the difference between exuding confidence and cockiness.
– Be confident!
No one wants to hire someone who is insecure about what he/she brings to the table. Be confident and know that you are highly valued. Speak up when you need to and let your voice be heard. Think creatively and provide a fresh perspective.
– Be respectful
The main difference in between my generations (20-30 yr. olds) and the Baby Boomer generation is that we tend to treat each other as peers while they do the opposite. Your boss will most likely prefer being called “sir/ma’am” or “mr/mrs _____” until you get the “ok” to call him by his/her first name. People of the baby boomer generation demand a respect that my generation is not used to giving. Be respectful.
– Embrace a strong work ethic
People are watching in your workplace. Every move you make, every project you submit, every e-mail you send, etc. Make sure your representing yourself in a way that nonverbally demands a promotion by your day-to-day work.
– Get organized
Something I’ve found to be the hardest of this transition is being organized with your tasks. This is so key for being successful. Keeping track of your assignments, papers, sticky notes, your inbox is critical to excellent quality of work within the workplace. It’s an art that I’m consistently trying to master.
– Embrace opportunities
When opportunities come your way, go 150% at them. You never know if this opportunity is a “test” to see what your made of.
– Have integrity
Integrity in the workplace means being honest and doing what is right no matter the circumstance. It requires you to make the right choice, even when you may not receive personal gain from the outcome, and to put your own agenda aside for the greater good of the organization and the people.
With these said, I also want to let you know that COLLEGE does not prepare you for EVERYTHING.
I’d say I was unprepared for:
– Emphasis placed on teamwork skills
If you work in a corporate atmosphere, chances are that you are on a team. Staying in communication, understanding each other, and working together towards a solution are essential to building success within the workplace. I never read anything about this in a book.
– Personal finances
Accounts Receivable. Balance Sheets — Blah. Blah. Blah. Learning to budget, especially when you decide to get married, is SO IMPORTANT. I think I actually took a personal finance class in High School..Mrs. Watts. However, once you have money and start making a consistent paycheck — it’s way different than reading case studies in books. I recommend going through this for a healthy financial life.
– Having to move back in with the family
I won’t go into this again. You can read here if you’d like to know more about this topic.
– Reality of 8am-5pm job
I’d say the closest I learned about this topic in college would be the all-nighters I pulled in college. That was the closest thing to 8 straight hours I can think of — and that only happened MAYBE 4 times. Once again, no book can prepare you for this.
You can read about it in books, but the second you experience a career first hand is when you really get it.
Embrace these things while jumping into a career. Despite the struggles, tedious tasks, interesting co-workers, etc — develop an optimistic, hard working attitude and dominate your day job.
With great work, comes great reward!