Saturday, May 14, 2016

How to Prepare for the Transition - College to Career

I am mentoring several recent college graduates.  Some are just about to graduate, others have been out for one, two or even five years.

The transition from college to career is one of the biggest in life.

For those working a traditional office job it can be a hard transition:

After 13 plus 4 or more years of getting up five days a week and going to school for about 180 days a year... all of the sudden, it's get up (REALLY EARLY!) to be a work by 8 am.  And sit for four hours until noon.  An hour (if you're lucky) for lunch. Then sit for 4 hours until five.

And go home. Do it again! With 2 weeks off after a year.  Instead of the summer off (13 weeks) plus a 2 week break at Christmas (or more) and a week break in the Spring.

Working a 40 hour a week job means working 2080 hours a year. (80 of those hours are vacation! and another 80 are holidays if you get 10 paid holidays like T-day, Christmas and 4th of July!)  This may be way different than carrying a 16 hour college load.

If you were in school 16 hours a week, you probably studied another 10 or 16 hours on a tough week. Maybe worked a part time job of 10-20 hours a week. So, yeah, you're busy with school, studying & working of 46 to 52 hours a week. But it is different!

For those who never did an internship, but instead worked retail or restaurant to get thru school... the sitting and meetings can be mind numbing!

Here are some of my suggestions to make a better transition:

  • Walk during your lunch break. At least 15 minutes, preferably more.  
  • Build relationships with coworkers. Sitting at the computer isn't much interaction. But "interview" them. Where did they work before, what was good/bad/better about it?
  • Learn what the boss expects and wants. What does it take to "exceed expectations" and what doesn't matter to the boss at all. You may be surprised. Don't assume!
  • Find ways to build additional learning into your natural life.  Meet-ups. On line course.  Mini training sessions.  Don't decide now that you're out of school that you're done learning!  You must keep on learning, it is optional how. 
  • Figure out what you like and don't like about the job, the boss, the company.  Keep a list of how you will do things better when you are the boss, you own a company.  What is it that your boss does well? Co workers?
  • Attend organizations that match your own goals - industry professional associations.  Even if it is on line, look for what's new in your field.   Make this a lifelong habit.  Things change. Alot. And fast. You'll be ready when the company gets sold, or everyone in your department gets restructured (laid off.) Expect it to happen and meet the challenge of being ready.
  • Turn around and help other new grads who are making the transition. You'll be able to help someone more than you know. 
  • Assuming you are skilled at MicroSoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint. Get equally comfortable with WordPress, Hoot Suite, and scheduling meetings with an online calendar like iCal, Google Calendar and/or MicroSoft Outlook. Also helpful: FreeConferenceCall or similar. New tools make you a valuable asset.  Not knowing how to use the basics can be stumbling block.

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