In case you're new around here, you can submit any questions for the “here” series here! You might just see my response on the blow!
Reader Question: Currently trudging through my senior year of college. Any tips for the workforce transition and how to find balance between work, school and finding your own passion outside of it all?
By the end of college, I was itching to get to the “real world.” I think it wanted to skip past the unknown and straight into stability. I wanted to “just know” what was going to happen post-college life.
So first of all, enjoy this time!!! Your life will never be the same after college. My fiance and I constantly talk about how easy life was back in school. There are many other perks to post-college life, but it's very different.
5 Tips for Finding Your Passion While Transitioning Into the Workforce / Real World
If you haven't already, get an internship, like YESTERDAY! Seriously, I hated working for free, but because of my undergraduate internships, it led to me making some serious coin during my graduate degree (like double than what my classmates were making).
Always be strategic about your internships, though. I had two really defining internships: a law office and a mental health and substance abuse treatment center. Without having the two vastly different internships, I probably wouldn't have realize bigger passions of mine (like being an entrepreneur) as quickly as I did. I constantly am contacted by people who are older than me, still in the 9-5 grind, wishing they could quit and follow their passion. Wholeheartedly, I believe that internships are a major key of discovering your passion and boosting your earning potential.
Internship PRO tip: Make it clear from the start that you are seeking employment. This can go at the end of your elevator pitch when they ask you to tell them about yourself and sound something like:
“I discovered my passion for X while doing Y. I realized it was an innate gift of mine when teachers kept putting me in leadership positions surrounding this skill. Currently I am seeking an internship with (insert something specific/unique about the company) that will lead to employment opportunities at it's conclusion.”
2. Say “YES.”
Even if you have no idea what you're doing, say yes during this time in your life. Say yes to work, friends, whatever.
Two big points here: work and friends.
At work, say “yes” – for a lot of us, myself included, when we are afraid our knee-jerk reaction is to say “no” because we don't want to look dumb or mess something up. Get in the habit of saying yes and figuring it out later at work. You're young and expected to make mistakes at this point so learn with a vengeance and always fail forward!
With friends: People forget that your friends and acquaintances in college and post-college are going to be a big part of your career in ways that you could never guess.
Seriously this guy will probably come back around and help you network your way into that killer big city job!
… Okay maybe it won't be Zac Efron, but I'll leave that there…
Friends can use their network to help you get that promotion, refer you business, or even become a business partner! Relationships formed in college and during your first job(s) have a magical quality. A lot of these friendships will carry you through your third decade, if not further.
So next time you are tempted to say “no” because you have too much work to do or something, remember that balance and friendships are still investing in your future and should be prioritized and scheduled, just like revamping your resume and Linkedin.
I am sure if you are reading this, you have a resume. However, I can't stress this enough, it probably sucks. Maybe it's because of poor grammar and spelling, or you lack work experience, who knows. The reality is your resume is probably ish right now.
How do I know? Two reasons: 1) Mine was crap when I was 20 and 2) I receive countless resumes from college students wanting internships, and I would say out of 10 only 1 is good. I have hired interns with crap resumes, but usually regretted it. So get with a career coach or start studying the craft of a resume and cold email.
4. Step up your e-mail etiquette.
One of the toughest things for most twenty-somethings to get right when transitioning into the workforce is e-mail etiquette. Check out this article for some helpful tips on email etiquette, and if you have a question, don't hesitate to ask.
5. Be prepared to be a little depressed.
After college, you are probably either going to be really excited or a little depressed. Whether it's because of change, leaving your friends behind, having to move back in with your parents, or you just experienced rejection for the first time from that job you had really high hopes for… most of us drop into a bit of a funk after college. Especially as the Instagram posts and Snaps start coming in from friends that seem to have magically mastered the transition.
Give yourself permission to work through those feelings. Then set a deadline for yourself to get back to life and things you enjoyed. For instance, think about what gets you really excited and energized now? Write those down. Don't forget those. The real world is going to want to rip those things away from you. Fog your head with what you “should” be doing. Stay true to your truth, not someone else's dream.
[RELATED] 8 Things I Wish I Knew Before Entering The Workforce
ALSO: My friend Kayla, also wrote a fantastic resource for transitioning twenty-somethings, called the Corporate Survival Guide for Your Twenties: A Guide to Help You Navigate the Business World* (Affiliate link, but I really love this book and can't sing it's praise enough!).
41 thoughts on “5 Tips For Transitioning Into The Workforce After College”
This is such good advice! I know for me internships were a huge. I ended up being hired my senior year through one!
I think saying yes is such an important thing to do whenever you’re in a “limbo” stage of life as it can open you up to so many things! I have said no to so many things over my life – especially when I was still in high school – and most of them I regret now. You’ll always get something out of a new experience!
These are some great tips! Internships are so important, I had 3 once I graduated and it gave me a huge head start when it came to full-time jobs. I got offers to the first two companies I applied for, within a few weeks after graduating. While some of my friends who hadn’t had internships didn’t get one for months! The transition was hard. Going from only having to be in class for 2-3 hours a day to sitting at a desk for 9 hours a day was tough. BUT once you leave work, you are done for the day, there is no homework and everything is left until you come in the next day. I found I actually had so much more time when I was working full time.
Great tips, definitely wasn’t an easy transition!!
This is so great! I know a ton of college students have a difficult time with this!
As someone 10 years away from being in that position I can say YES to saying YES! It gets so much harder as you get older.
Haha that Zac Efron guy coming back to help you in the future lol!
I think this is really important. I start college as a pre-veterinary medicine major. I did NOT graduate in that. A big part was my internship like Anna said. 🙂
These are all excellent tips! If I could go back and redo college, I would try and get a more diverse internship experience – I only worked in PR and I didn’t realize my true passion lied in advocacy until after college.
Great post! I think I was the least ill prepared for #5. I’m a typical overachiever, who had a perfect five year plan and of course everything fell apart, and everyone else seemed like they went on with their lives. Definitely something I wish someone would’ve prepared me for, but you live and you learn.
haha of course! I hear you, I had my plan all perfectly mapped out too, and then, well you know! haha
That Zac Efron gif though… Now thats something I can say yes to 😉
truuuu internships are so so helpful!
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