by sysop in From Campus to Career
by Katie Kallam
Congratulations! You did it. You’ve got your cap and gown, A’s on all your finals (or close to it), and a diploma in hand. Now what?
A) Have landed your dream job
B) Have taken the first opportunity that came your way
C) Are still on the hunt for employment
No matter which scenario fits you, the transition from college to the work day world is a tough one. Aside from starting your day before noon and investing in footwear other than sneakers, you’ll encounter many challenges in the professional world that you didn’t face during your undergraduate career. Your skills and knowledge may have helped you land the job, but here are tips to help you keep it:
- Remember you’re not as great as you think. We are not trying to say that your mom was wrong! Sure, you landed the job, and that is to be commended. But you still have much to learn. This isn’t college anymore. You’re heading into a world where many coworkers have great resumes and were inducted into six different honors societies. Be proud of those accomplishments, but leave them in the past. You are starting with a clean slate. Be teachable and open to learn from the experiences of those who have gone before you.
- Invest in relationships. The cubicle-bound lifestyle of the working world can be a hard adjustment after the largely communicative college life. In your new job, you may not have many opportunities to work with others. You may find yourself working quietly at your desk and communicating with others only on occasion or over email. Counteract loneliness or isolation by forming relationships with your co-workers. Invite them to lunch; make conversation in the break room; ask them about their families; remember their birthdays. They’ll want to get to know the new face in the office, and you’ll find that a foundation of friendship with your colleagues will further motivate you to do your daily tasks well.
- …but don’t be too social. There is a hazard that comes with forming relationships at work. It’s important to recognize when people are simply too busy to make conversation. Evaluate the level of importance of what you have to say compared to what they’re currently working on. Can it wait until later? Respect others’ time, and they will respect you.
- Make yourself useful. If you’re just starting out in your first job after college, it may take you a while to get the hang of your role within the larger organizational culture. In the meantime, make yourself useful in any way you can. No task is too menial. Look for what’s not being done and do it. Print off documents for someone else. Make sure the break room stays clean. Your willingness to help out will not go unnoticed and could lead to respect and more responsibility in the future.
- Bring baked goods. Never underestimate the power of sweets. Little gestures can go a long way to brighten the mood of the office. People will appreciate the fact that you were thinking of them and made the effort to do something to make their day better.
The transition from college to career is difficult for everyone, so don’t be discouraged if you falter at first. With time you will grow into your role and hopefully develop your skills and experience to make a difference and do something you truly love.