College is great, but there comes a time when you’ve got to leave it behind and join the world of work. When you make the transition from college to the workplace, you’ll notice several differences:
- More responsibility. In most careers there are no repeats or re-sits and no making it up in the next term. Your actions translate to profit and loss for the company, and employers are generally less interested in mitigating circumstances than college professors.
- Holidays. Say goodbye to those nice long summer holidays and winter breaks. Depending on your job you’ll get holidays and one vacation, usually two weeks long. Also, cutting class isn’t an option.
- Friends. A vibrant social life is one of the wonderful things about college. You’ll still have a social life when you start work, but the opportunities to meet new people will not be so frequent as they were in college. Actively seek out new friends to keep the social side of your life thriving.
- Specialisation. You will probably be doing a small number of tasks, and this may feel more repetitive than college, where you might move between a variety of classes over the course of a day.
Tips on how to make the transition from college to work
Some of this may sound daunting, but this is your opportunity to put the experience you’ve gained at college to good use and assert your independence in the world. Many students anticipate this independence by doing internships or part time work while at college. This gives a good impression of what work-life is like, and it can impress a potential employer.
It’s important to make contacts. If you do an internship, keep in touch with the people you meet there. When you leave college look them up. Put together a list of people who might be able to help you in your first steps after college – friends, family members and their friends, college lecturers and professors. You may be surprised at who your Aunt Mabel plays bridge with, and a good word from a trusted friend could get you a key introduction. Apart from these informal networks, job fairs and similar events and conferences can be invaluable in networking your way into your dream job.
Networking alone won’t get you the job, though. You may have left college but you’ve got to keep your skills up. Basic computer skills (Word, Excel, Powerpoint) are indispensible in almost any job these days and so too, as ever, are good communication skills, both oral and written.
When it comes to the interview, make sure to prepare well. Know the company and use social network sites like LinkedIn to talk with current employees. After the interview it is important to follow up with a thank you note, which demonstrates your enthusiasm for the job.