Transitioning From College to the Working World

Graduating from college is a big accomplishment that everyone, regardless of what degree they earned, should be proud of. It is an exciting time for most people, with new opportunities and career paths on the horizon. For the graduates who aren’t continuing on in their education, entering the workforce will require a shift in thinking, from that of a student to a working professional.

Here are just some of the many changes you will experience as you transition from college to the “real world.”

Amount of feedback and direction from those in charge.

In college, you get frequent feedback and direction from your professors with every test you take, paper you write, and office hours you attend. But in the working world, you can expect to get much less frequent feedback from your supervisor. Many companies still utilize the annual or semi-annual review program, and if you are working in a large organization, you may get very little face time with your supervisor outside of those meetings.

Amount of time off.

As a student, you enjoyed frequent breaks and vacations. Colleges are closed for many bank holidays, fall break, spring break, intersessions, and then the months-long summer break. Additionally, you had the freedom to make your own schedule. Want Fridays off or no classes before 9am? Chances are you could make that work. With your first job after college, you will have much less time off. Many companies prorate your first year’s PTO, so starting a job in June or July could mean you only have a week or so off for the rest of the year. You may also have to work for 3-6 months before you can take a week off. And by the end of the first year, you’ll probably end up working 50 weeks.

Area of focus.

Throughout college your focus primarily was on the effort you put into your classes, papers, and studying for exams, and the growth you achieved as a result of studying something new. While how well you did on them ultimately mattered, professors still took into consideration the effort you spent on their class. In the working world, it all boils down to results. While professional growth is important, if you aren’t achieving the results you were hired for, you’re not going to be in that job for very long.

Amount of effort.

While most of us say that we tried our hardest in our classes in college, it really was up to the individual person to choose how much effort they put in. If you wanted to skip class one day to sleep in, no one was going to yell at you the next day. It was up to you to get lecture notes from a friend and be prepared for the next class. Post grad, you have to give work your “A game” every day. You can no longer skip work, or show up late like you did in college or you’ll soon find yourself out of a job.

Work style.

College encourages independent thinking. It is a period in life devoted to finding out who you really are. College campuses are some of the most liberal and free-thinking places around. And while companies value employees with their own creative ideas, they value teamwork and collaboration more.