Transitioning from College to Work: How to Survive Your First Job after GraduationTransitioning from College to Work: How to Survive Your First Job after Graduation

Transitioning from College to Work

Jumping into the world of work after four years of college can be stressful and somewhat intimidating. Here is a checklist of 10 things to consider when starting your new job:

1. Time factors.

Some students try to avoid scheduling classes at 8 a.m., and if they do, they often show up late or miss that class entirely. When you enter the work force, this is no longer an option. A lot of jobs can start as early as 6 or 7 a.m., and they expect you to show up every day, and never late. Being tardy or absent from your new job is a good way of getting fired. Try showing up early and working until your assignments are finished. This will show your new employer that you are serious about your new responsibilities and want to do your best.

2. Always meet expected deadlines and volunteer for projects.

Every job has assignments or projects in which you will be involved. You may have a monthly or weekly report to write up about a specific client, or other job responsibilities. Many companies have projects that they are working on, and getting involved is the best way to learn more about your new job. Always complete these on time and try not to ask for extensions.

3. Professionalism is key.

Professionalism includes a wide range of issues from dressing appropriately to using professional language at all times. Always put your best foot forward, and dress to impress. It's always better to overdress than underdress at your new company. Check the dress code your first week and follow it at all times. Do not tell inappropriate jokes, use slang or be disrespectful to anyone. Try to be professional in every aspect when at your new job.

4. Do not get involved in office politics.

When starting at a new job, opportunities for meeting new people and making friends in the workplace will present themselves. Some work environments are a lot like college in the respect of the "he said, she said" type of rumors and comments. Do not get involved in gossip at work. Unlike college, you will be seeing your co-workers 40-plus hours a week, and creating enemies can make your new environment uncomfortable or get you into serious trouble. Be courteous to everyone you meet and leave any negative attitudes at home.

5. Ask questions and learn everything you can.

No one expects a new hire to know everything about the company and the new duties that he or she will be taking on. Don't be embarrassed about asking questions or feeling unsure about a particular duty or assignment that is expected of you. Find out everything you can about your new job, and do not feign understanding just so you don't have to ask questions. Learning continues even after college and a new job will be a very valuable learning experience.

6. The entry-level blues.

It would be ideal to come directly out of college and start out your new career being the boss. Sometimes that does happen, but nine times out of 10 you will be starting in an entry-level position and will have to work your way up. Look at this as a challenge to yourself to succeed on your own. Remember, you will not be the only one at your new job with a college degree and there will be competition to get to the top. With this in mind, make sure your new job has chances of upward mobility, or you can remain in the same position without the possibility of moving up on the corporate ladder.

7. Vacation ...  or lack of it.

Some students are used to having spring break, fall break, long weekends and summers off. This will all change when you enter the job market. Most jobs give you 10-12 days off for vacation a year, if you're lucky. Sick days are also rationed, and will depend on the company you are working for. Check the policies of your new job regarding time off and sick time. Never take a sick day directly after company vacation days because that is usually frowned upon and discouraged. Remember, the longer you work for a company, the more time you accrue for vacation.

8. Understand that you are part of a team.

Your new job may involve working as a team member and collaborating with your co-workers. This is an opportunity to see how well you work with others, which may be critical to your success in a new job. Expect feedback and constructive criticism, and try to learn from it. Whenever possible, seek feedback so you can improve your skills at your new place of employment.

9. Get to know everyone and what they do for the company.

It's a good idea to introduce yourself to everyone and ask a little about what their responsibilities are. You may learn valuable information that may pertain to your position that can help you understand more about the organization. Be nice and respectful when you are doing this; you never know who you could be working for next.

10. Have fun.

A job does not have to be boring or unpleasant. If you walk into an environment that is not fun, look to yourself to make it enjoyable. Be positive, and good luck.

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