Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Getting Ready to Graduate: Are You Ready for the Workforce?

Graduation is in sight and there’s light at the end of the tunnel… but now what!? The anticipation of graduation can be an exciting time met with pride, a sense of accomplishment and excitement about the future. It is not uncommon for students to also feel sad to leave their college experience and have anxieties or fears about embarking on a job search and entering the workforce. While each individual will have different goals for after graduation, there are some common transitions to prepare for:

Relationships may change. Your community after college becomes more intentional, as you seek out relationships of choice rather than relying on the social community universities create. More of your time may be spent networking and developing professional relationships than focusing on relationships that are developed with the sole intent of socializing. This is a great opportunity to get to know people from a variety of backgrounds who have had different experiences than you have encountered. You have the opportunity to learn a lot from your peers and colleagues and professional mentors along the way. After all, “every person that you meet knows something you don’t.” – H. Jackson Brown Jr.

Generational variances exist more in the workforce than they do at traditional universities. You may have gotten used to working with peers close to your age, but this will not necessarily be the case moving forward. There is potential for four generations of professionals at your organization and while it is important to avoid stereotyping, differences in working style or communication could arise. Get to know the individuals you are working with to better understand their perspective and reasoning for approaching a situation the way they do. If misunderstandings do arise, show willingness to talk about the perspectives being represented and develop problem-solving strategies and better ways to communicate. You may also need to be prepared to supervise professionals much older than yourself.

Teamwork will be the norm. Many universities require and encourage teamwork in the classroom, as this skill is utilized on a daily basis in the world of work. We do not exist in isolation, so learning how to work with others will be crucial to your career success, whether it is on your immediate team or with professionals from another department. Learn how to capitalize on people’s strengths and different working styles and offer to pitch in when help is needed. Not only will this help produce the work that needs to get done but it will also serve as a networking strategy over time.

Finally, learn how to budget time and money. You may need to prioritize tasks at work and will notice that project deadlines and punctuality will be stressed more in the workplace than they have been throughout your college career. In order to budget your money, you will want to list your expenses, calculate costs and prioritize based on your income. The earlier you start saving, in general and for retirement, the better prepared you will be in the long run.

Enjoy the transition and the growth that comes along with it. Welcome to the world of work!

Melena Postolowski, MA, NCC
Assistant Director of Internship Programs, Office of Career Services
The University of Tampa

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