Your finals are done, credits are earned, and graduation is around the corner. You have sent your resume to countless companies, sat through numerous interviews, and finally landed your first position out of school. It is now time to make the transition from college to corporate America. So, what exactly does that mean?
First, make sure you are fully prepared going in on your first day. Many people get a job in an industry they do not know much about, so if that is the case make sure to do your research. Read articles, sign up for Google news alerts or anything else that will help you to become educated in your new field. Knowledge is power and it will only help you in the long run if you start learning right away. Remember to carefully read all paperwork and the company handbook. Every business has different rules and regulations that workers are expected to follow. If you make sure to read the handbook and all other paperwork, you will eliminate the possibility of accidentally breaking a rule in the office. This position could be a catalyst for a life-long career, so should be approached much different than your part-time school job was. Your first career move can lay the groundwork for your entire future if you treat is as such.
Corporate life is much different from the life you lived while in school. One of the first big changes you may encounter will be time constraints. At school, many students have the ability to pick their own schedule; planning only afternoon classes or even having no classes on Fridays (if you are lucky). Unfortunately, that is not usually the case in the working world. Depending on the company and industry, your work day could start extremely early in the morning, or could go late into the night. Oftentimes, even lunch and other breaks are restricted to specific times. Such schedule restrictions means much less flexibility, so being aware of that is very important.
It is important to learn how to adapt to working at least 40 hours a week, while still maintaining a personal life. Learning to balance the two is imperative so you are able to stay on top of your game at work, while not getting burnt-out. In college, it may have been possible to go out until 2:00 AM and still attend class; it will not be as easy in the workplace, and people will notice. Perception does matter and if you are seen as the person that is always showing up looking tired from a night of partying, that will stick. If you want to really make a good impression, showing up early and not being the first to leave can go a long way. It is important to remember that the world now revolves around the business, not around you. Also, don’t forget to exercise! It’s very easy to let work get in the way of staying healthy, so making sure to add a form of exercise to your routine will stop you from falling off the wagon into an unhealthy, stagnant lifestyle. It will also benefit you at work be helping with concentration, productivity, and overall attentiveness!
Another adjustment is professionalism and etiquette. Every company and office has different standards for acceptable behavior, but there are some overarching rules. Whether your office attire is suit and tie, or jeans and sneakers, your outfit should be neat and presentable. As mentioned before, perception matters and if people notice you dressing like a professional, they will see you as one. This also spans into your speech and demeanor. You may be working with people from different cultures, different ages, and different walks of life. Judgments can be made instantaneously, and you want to do what you can to make sure those judgments are positive ones. Be a team player when you can, and manage your time to meet deadlines, especially when it affects your coworkers directly.
Finally, written communication is where people need to be extra cautious. You are a representation of the company, so whether you are emailing your coworkers or a client, make sure to use proper grammar and avoid slang and shorthand. Emails can also usually be tracked by companies, so never fall into an email battle with someone; odds are it will come back to bite you! This stems to social media as well, so clean it up! Your managers and coworkers will look at your social media pages (LinkedIn and Facebook being the most popular), so you want to make sure what they see is what you want them to see. Do not post about work or during work hours, you never know who is watching.
The transition from college to corporate life is not always easy. Between time constraints, work environments and expectations, it can be intimidating at first. If you follow these tips, you will not only minimize the possibility of issues arising, but will make the most out of the start to a new chapter in your life!