How to Navigate the Transition from College to a Career

So, you are finished. You’ve completed all your college credits and had your diploma in hand.  Now you have to get ready to search for—or start—your first job.

Job searching after graduating from college can be a chaotic and stressful time. You have to deal with the demands of job-hunting, interviewing, and starting a new career.

Do you know the steps to transition from finishing college to a career?

While it helps to have an idea of your career path after graduation, don’t worry if your first job does not perfectly fit your plan.

Many recent college grads change jobs after their first year; sometimes it takes that long (or longer!) to determine what you want to do in life. Your major does not identify the types of jobs you can work in.

While there are specialized fields, such as engineering, where you need to have a degree in this area, the majority of the position requires a college degree. Focus your job search on the types of jobs you want.

What You’ll Need

To find a job, you must first create a terrific resume and cover letter.  Each job opening may draw hundreds of applicant resumes. Some services can help you build a robust and targeted resume.

Focus your resume and cover letter on how you can contribute to the company where you want to work. Send your resume to potential employers, employment agencies, recruiters, and your network. Spend time daily looking for job opportunities.

The majority of jobs available for college grads are entry-level. These jobs often require long hours, low pay, and hard work.

Don’t refuse a job that you think is below you; be realistic. You may have to start at a low level and move up. That is not to say you should take just any job offer; you should research your career path to find out at which level most new hires start.

You’ve Landed Your First Job

Soon, you will interview and land your first job—congratulations! Are you ready to transition into a new career? What an exciting time it is for you! Landing a new job after college is a big step.

Appropriate social behavior is much different in the working world than in college. It is much more formal and requires professional speech and behavior.

Your behavior will be judged in job interviews and during your job search. Prove you are intelligent, articulate, motivated, and professional by sharing success stories related to your career achievements.

Acting unprofessional in the workplace can get you fired. Never drink at work or even during a casual lunch with colleagues. Act responsibly at all times. Do not gossip.

What to Expect

Most jobs require employees to arrive at work, take lunch and breaks, and leave work at specific times. This strict schedule can be frustrating because you have been used to a more flexible schedule as a college student.

Learn to take short breaks to use the restroom or get a cup of coffee or some water. Always arrive on time.

Expect to work some overtime. Be ready to work at least eight hours per day and take only two weeks of vacation per year. It won’t be easy! Work will now be (and should be) your primary focus in life until you have a family.

Professional attire (a suit, clean clothes, neat hair, and appropriate makeup) is essential on the job. Others may judge you based on your attire and appearance.

Always maintain good hygiene; never forget to shower, brush your teeth and hair, wear deodorant, in the morning before leaving for work.

Your ability to collaborate and get along well with individuals from different cultures and backgrounds, to cooperate with other employees will all be vital in doing well on your first job. Stay organized and manage your time carefully. Learn from your mistakes and do not hesitate to ask for advice and assistance.

Things to Remember

The transition from college to a career can be challenging. Stay in touch with your college friends. Initiate conversations with your new co-workers.

These are the connections that will encourage, motivate, and help you. Strive to get the best job offer from a top company, but be realistic about what you can expect in a new position.