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The transition from college student to working professionally can be challenging for recent graduates. You may be able to go out with friends and spend several nights out during the week or stay up until midnight (or later) every night like you did in college. Early on, create healthy work habits that contribute to career success. Eat well, get enough sleep and maximize your free time to maintain a proper work-life balance.
Although graduation is months away for most college seniors, it's important to begin preparing yourself for the competitive job market ahead. Learning the ropes of a new job, mastering the social ladder of a workplace, and in general, trying to figure out business etiquette can be pretty frustrating to new workers.
Here are some survival tips for new grads in the workplace on navigating their bold new venture in the work world:
Stay true to your values and motivators.
You won't last long in a job or company that conflicts with your morals and values, or a job that doesn't motivate you. We are not saying you need to fear your co-workers, but you should know that the office political environment can play out in a similar fashion as social networks back in school… with deadlier consequences. Refrain from office gossips (which are a behavior common in high school and college) and choose your words carefully. Until you have an accurate read on each person in your office, keep your cards close to your chest. Gossip doesn’t have a place in the workplace, but it does happen, and that person you confided in could just as easily turn around and stab you in the back… torpedoing your career. Keep your own counsel.
Education Doesn’t End With Your Graduation
How can you build your knowledge? Not too many career centers or colleges/universities prepare students for the staggering fact that their education isn’t ending… in fact, it is just starting. Beyond your formal education, there’s a whole new universe of learning called “professional development” – this is the stuff that will give you the job-specific skills to be successful. The sooner you can become aware of the fact that you need to demonstrate continuous learning by taking classes, training, workshops, webinars, and attending conferences/tradeshows /conventions, as well as gaining industry certifications, you will be light years ahead of anyone else in your graduating class. This process does not end until you retire. You'll not only learn about the business climate but which companies are growing, expanding and making a difference in the surrounding community.
Network with recruiters
In school, this was called making friends and you’ll be doing that same thing but in a professional context. While at work some become best friends, some turn out to be close friends than others, but the point is that networking really building a connection with people with whom you have some kind of shared interests or goals. Manners do matter, and those that have made the effort to help you remember who has thanked them or not.
When you have that “spider web” of people in your network, you’ll find that job and life opportunities flow much easier your way because these are the people who can and want to help you. If you're looking to move to a specific location, you can reach out to recruiters in that perspective area. You never know; they may have a job opening where you're the perfect fit.
Create and stick to a personal budget.
For most new professionals who are used to living on a college student budget, seeing that huge dollar amount on their first salaried paycheck seems like an invitation to do all the things they couldn't afford in school: rent a nice apartment, take expensive trips, purchase designer clothes, etc. Loch noted that it's important to create a budget to figure out how much disposable income you'll really have each month after all the bills are paid. If you're paying off student loan debt, be careful when taking on new debt to finance a large purchase.
Remember that this job will not be your last.
I say this tongue-in-cheek, but the subtext to this statement is really important: you are now on your own and you cannot expect anyone to pick up your slack. Spending your entire career with one company is now the exception rather than the rule so doesn’t fall in love with your first job or company. You may suddenly find yourself wanting to move on, or your company may hit hard times and face layoffs.
The work world doesn’t operate that way… you either sink or swim. You are judged by your actions and you should always do the right thing and never expect someone to be there to catch you when you fall. That’s called life, and over the course of your career, you are going to make mistakes and have to learn from them. That’s called experience.