Now that college is over, you might be ready to make a name for yourself in corporate America. But although you’re eager to get a taste of the real world, the transition from college to corporate life isn’t always sunshine and roses.
Attending a university can teach you independence, but it doesn’t teach everything you need to know about life outside the classroom. You’re about to enter an entirely different world -a world where you’ll trade-in jeans for a business suit, wake up at an ungodly hour five days a week, and possibly suck up to a boss you hate just to get ahead.
You’re spreading your wings and going into a brand new territory, but don’t fret, we’ve compiled a list to make this transition smoother.
1. Don't Maintain Your College Lifestyle
After graduating college, you may naively think that your lifestyle will remain the same. You might imagine yourself going to work everyday and still having enough energy to hang out with friends during the work week.
Working full-time isn’t the same as having a full class schedule in school. In the corporate world, your boss will have you running from the time you walk through the door in the morning until you leave in the evening. So if you think you’re going to maintain the same social calendar you had during college, you’re in for a surprise. Your life is about to get crazier and more hectic than you ever anticipated.
Many entry-level positions are demanding and fast-paced. Your job can take all your mental and physical strength. So the sooner you realize that you’ll have to scale back your social life, the easier the transition. Accept the fact that you might only see your friends on the weekend -and it might not be every weekend. And if you’re a night owl who has to watch every late night talk show, I suggest learning how to use a DVR or watching a recap the next day. There’s no way you’re going to get an early start when you go to bed after midnight.
2. Learn How to Watch the Clock
In college, maybe punctuality wasn’t in your vocabulary. You might be the person who’s always running 10 or 15 minutes behind schedule, whether you’re headed to class or meeting up with your study group. It’s who you are, and your friends accept this. And since you’re paying for your education, your professors might not care if you show up late -or not at all for that matter. Just know that four years of never being on time makes it harder to be punctual once you find a job. Unlike some of your college professors, your boss isn’t going to sit silently as your tardies accumulate. Punctuality might be your weakness, but there’s no time like the present to whip yourself into shape and start watching the clock and giving yourself enough time to arrive.
3. Get Creative With Your Exercise Schedule
Perhaps you had a regular fitness schedule while in college. If you had a flexible class schedule, you might have had the freedom to squeeze in exercise during the afternoons or evenings with no problem. Once you get a corporate job and trade-in your freedom for full-time hours, regular fitness can go out the window. Your schedule might be so hectic that you barely have time to eat, let alone exercise. And when you do have time, you’re too exhausted and can’t pull yourself off the couch. You may not be able to find time to hit the gym, but you can bring the gym to your office. Depending on how much space you have, you can get a treadmill desk for your office. Walk on the treadmill for a few minutes while you’re talking on phone or typing on your laptop. You can also squeeze in a little exercise by swapping your desk chair for an exercise ball. And the next time you need to brainstorm with a colleague, suggest a walking meeting and take a stroll around the block. You’ll knock out two birds with one stone — you’ll fulfill your job duties while maintaining your physical fitness.
4. Understand Opinions About Your Generation
If you’re a millennial entering the corporate world, unfortunately, some of your coworkers will form opinions about you before you walk through the door. You might be educated, driven and tech-savvy. But in the eyes of some people, you’re also spoiled and entitled.
Millennials have a bad reputation. So if you walk into your new job with a know-it-all attitude or act as if the company’s lucky to have you, you’re basically validating these generalized opinions about you and your generation. Rather than giving into the stereotype, prove your coworkers wrong. Let your actions show that you’re not a whiny little brat. This doesn’t mean you have to sit silent and not contribute or speak up. Just make sure you respect the opinions and ideas of the older generation, and don’t think you have all the answers.
5. Develop a Tougher Skin
In college, maybe you had friends with the similar likes, dislikes and personalities. And as far as criticism goes, maybe you didn’t receive a lot of this from you peers or professors. If you’re not used to people ripping into you and tearing your work apart, it might be tough to deal with colleagues who speak negatively about your contributions. The people you work with might be cutthroat, brutally honest, and they won’t hold their tongue or care if your feelings get hurt. Additionally, your performance reviews may not always be favorable. But since this is the real world with real bills, you can’t jump ship or switch jobs every time something doesn’t go your way. You need a tough skin to make it in some corporate settings. So learn how to embrace constructive criticism and shake off unfair criticism.
6. Remember, Your First Job Won't Be Your Last
After getting a job in the corporate world, you may quickly realize a particular position isn’t for you. Your boss might be overly demanding, the job might not offer the best work/life balance, or you might simply hate what you do. Although your situation might be less than ideal, try and stick it out for at least one year, you never know, things might improve.
Even if the job isn’t what you expected, it might be an excellent learning experience and you might acquire skills that’ll help you qualify for better positions in the future. Besides, if you quit a new job after a month or two, there’s no guarantee that your next job will be any better. If you keep switching jobs every 2 to 3 months, employers reviewing your application may conclude that you’re the type of person who never finishes anything.
See Also: How to Make the Transition From Being a Student to a Professional Corporate
Life is a completely different ballgame to college. Your colleagues might be more than twice your age, and your job duties may require working harder and longer than you ever did in college. But like any new experience in life, it’s all about getting through an adjustment period and settling into a new normal.