Making the Change from College to the Workforce: What will be different?

Congrats new grads! Graduating from college is an impressive accomplishment, but the learning has just begun. It may be a relief that the nights staying up until 3AM studying are behind you, but now it’s time to get back into a routine and prepare for what’s next. In order to successfully land and retain your first “real world” job after graduation, a shift in thinking will be required. Here are just some of the changes you will experience, or need to make, as you transition from a student to a working professional.

Change in Your Carefree Attitude

The days of partying on a Wednesday, strolling into class in your pajamas, and making your own schedule are behind you. If you didn’t feel like going to class, you skipped. Skipping class is not equivalent to skipping work and there isn’t an option to just take a “0” on an assignment you are being held accountable for completing. You simply will just lose your job, so make sure you leave your carefree attitude at the dorm.

Change in Your Free Time

You probably had the option to create your own class schedule in college. You slept in daily, were given every holiday off, and had long breaks during and between semesters. This will not be the case when you land a full-time job. Being the newbie, you may have to work the shift that nobody wants and you might be given little to no paid vacation time at first. Just remember that you won’t be at the bottom of the totem pole forever!

Change in Your Income

Cha-ching! After living off a part-time income or no income at all, this whole working thing might not be so bad after all. Before you get carried away and head straight to the mall, sit down and figure out your financials. Once you move out of the dorms or your parents’ house, there is more to pay for than just food and beer. Unfortunately, budgeting is a life skill that is rarely taught in college. Rent is due, your car payment is due, and before you know it, student loan payments will be due. Your income will increase, but remember that your bills will, too.

Change in Your Crew

After graduation, you’ll find that you will need to switch gears from calling your friends to meet up at the library or bar to messaging potential mentors and recruiters. Your job search should be your top priority, and making new professional connections is essential. Once you land a job, it may take some time to adjust to communicating to a team of people of all ages, at many different experience levels. This is a change from college, as you were surrounded by people around the same age as you with the same amount of industry experience.

Change in Your Mindset

In college, you have the right to be selfish. You are paying to attend, and you want to get the most out of the experience as possible. However, this “all about me” mindset needs to change once you enter the workforce. You need to begin focusing on how you can help the company and others rather than just yourself.

Change in Your Expectations

Unfortunately, a college degree is not a key that automatically unlocks a high-level position in your field, and some college students have this expectation. Your first job out of college will not be your dream job, and that’s okay! You will most likely have to take an entry-level position or a position that doesn’t even relate to your degree. Instead of being discouraged, think of the bigger picture. What can this role lead to in the future?