Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Guest Post: College Kid to Young Professional—Making the Transition

We love guest posts, but we love even more those guest authors who decide to come back for another round. Mariana Ashley wrote for us in the past and we're happy to welcome her back for a subject that all of us went through at one point--making the transition from college student into young professional. The author of this guest post writes online colleges news and commentary for various websites and is happy to receive your responses at mariana.ashley031@gmail.com. Here is what Mariana had to say in her post:
Making the transition from the college campus to the "real world" is challenging for many different reasons. Not only are brand new college grads today faced with the challenges of a difficult job market and astonishing student loan debt, new graduates are also faced with the more traditional challenges of entering the working world. College graduation is a period of transition in many different areas of life. For many young adults, this is the first time that they have truly lived on their own and without the support of their parents. Students are faced with new financial responsibilities and the always-exhausting process of applying for jobs, updating resumes, and writing cover letters.

Once you have landed your first real time job in the professional world, there are some aspects of professional life in the office you will have to adjust to. Keep these three things in mind when making the transition from the college classroom to the professional office.

Learn the Company Culture 

While many people will tell you that you have to entirely change your wardrobe and interactions when you transition from college to the workplace, that isn't always necessarily true. Yes, you will likely have to put together your appearance differently than you did in the dorm room and on campus, but that doesn't mean you should buy tons of suits and pencil skirts. Dress and act professionally (of course), but also try to get to know and understand the company culture. Each workplace is different in feel, demeanor, and formalness.

Try to get a solid feel for the company culture after you start in an office. Your goal should be to understand the company culture and blend into it without compromising your own professional goals. Learn the differences in your workplace between policy and politics. Be observant. Pay attention to those around you and gain an understanding of how they perform. This can be very similar to gaining an understanding of the culture of a college classroom. Look to the top performers in the office (as you did in the classroom) and see what they dress, how they communicate ideas, how they interact with others, and how they behave in meetings. Integrating yourself into the company culture smoothly will make for a more successful day-to-day performance and overall growth.

Establish Professional Relationships

Establishing relationships in the workplace can be one of the most difficult and differing aspects of the professional world from the collegiate one. In college, you are led to believe that every student, professor, and otherwise is your friend and supporter. You all have the same goal and you will work together to meet it. In the world of business, this camaraderie isn't quite as clear-cut. In the professional world, you want to make a strong impression at a personal level as well as a professional one. Understand that where the line is between friend and co-worker when you are first entering the "real world" workplace. You want to be friendly, but you do not want to be too person so as to be unprofessional. Sure, eventually you will likely form friendships with co-workers, but to start try to learn the boundaries.

To go along with professional relationships, it is essential that new graduates in the working world forge professional relationships for the sake of networking. Most of us do not land the position we ultimately want to do right out of college. Try to forge some important networking connections with that first job you get. Talk to people in positions that you are interested in one day having, so as to have connections in the field.

Remain a Student of Your Trade 

One of the last things that new graduates think of when entering the professional world is going back to school or learning more. But, to be a truly successful professional competitor, you should never stop learning. Become a student of your trade. New graduates especially should always consider and try to foster their professional development. Investigate the possibility of in-house training, educational travel, continuing academic education, and memberships in professional associations. These steps can give new graduates an even greater ploy in the professional world and can truly aid their future success.

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