Start Your First Job out of College?

I’ve been in my first job for almost four months (three days to go!). It’s most natural to sweat a bit over the transition from a student to a full-time employee, even though I don’t work on Wall Street like the girl Alex does in the book Bond Girl.

This transition hasn’t been super challenging but it’s not easy either. Learning from articles on how to make smooth transition into the workforce, in addition to my personal experience in the past four months, the following points are worth considering for new college graduates who first embark on their career path:

1. Understanding the culture, the people and the rules

As Jonnelle Marte indicated in her article in the Wall Street Journal, young professionals need to realize it’s not only about you any more. Instead, as a newcomer to a company, you should observe your boss, the colleagues, and the customers: what is their way of communication? what is their work style? Are they very hands-on or do they expect you to prioritize work and work on your own deadlines? Teamwork is what we are talking about here.

2. Time Constraint

Students’ days are relatively less structured than working professionals, who are expected to arrive, take lunch break and leave at a certain time. Even though you are allotted vocation time, don’t expect to enjoy the kind of flexibility that you have as a student. Chances may be that you will have to report to duty even during holidays.

Of course, after 9-5 job, you are more than encouraged to pursue your own interest to unwind: read a book, listen to music, or work out.

My college roommate, who is working in Hong Kong right now, warned me that it might be easy to gain weight once you start to work. And that is true! Now, I work out for an hour every day in the gym. It not only keeps me fit but also reduces all the stress from work and personal life. Provided that the weather is good, I will go for a long run on weekends. You will enjoy the fresh air as well as the beautiful fall foliage.

3. Don’t forget about your friends!

TGIF! Thank god it’s the weekend! Do you feel like all you want to do is to lie down and catch up on the TV series or movies you don’t have time for during weekdays? But wait! Don’t you have friends that you haven’t met since graduation? Or the place you have always been wanting to go? Then, pack and head out! I think at least you should use one day of the weekend to catch up with friends, go out and have some fun! Especially for me, an international student whose families are not in the US, I find hanging out with friends an essential part of my life. Dining out, watching a movie, exploring some local events, there are tons of things that you can do!

How about making new friends? Many have complained that it was getting difficult to make new friends as you start to work. But, it’s always possible! The key is…? Being Genuinely Interested in Other People.

In the E book “Welcome to the real world: Advice for graduates, job seekers and all other human beings“provided by Life Without Pants, Doug Shaw says “One of the things which help me in my life and career is to be genuinely interested in other people. That sense of genuine interest in others has taken me to some fantastic places and it’s much more fun than trying to be interesting in yourself!”

This is actually harder than it sounds. Often times people are pretty self-centered and forgot there is a whole new world besides the world they live in.

So, what helps you transition from a student to a working professional more smoothly? Share your thoughts in the comment!


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