Ten ways to smooth out the transition from college to the professional world

You have worked hard for the past four years and you are getting close to graduation. Now what? While you could be going through an emotional roller-coaster, it is time to collect yourself and think about what happens next. Can you control it? Will things happen as they did when you transitioned from high school to college? Maybe it is a similar situation, but are you better prepared? You know how to do laundry, how to make food for yourself (somewhat), when to go to classes, when to study, how to live with roommates. Above all, you have learned to survive in an environment without any adult supervision.

Here are ten steps to make your transition much smoother:

1. Personal professional statement: You will often meet experienced senior managers who ask “tell me about yourself.” Rather than searching for words, prepare a response ahead of time, describing what your natural talents are and how you can productively apply those to your current job.

2. Social networking: Understand the difference between personal (Facebook) and professional (LinkedIn) social networks. Utilize and leverage these appropriately. Remember written text on internet may live forever, so think twice about what and where you write.

3. Hygiene and dress code: We all judge each other based on our first impressions, so looking clean and dressing appropriately for the job should never be ignored—especially when you are just starting out.

4. Challenging assignments: When given the opportunity, be bold and sign-up for projects that may be a stretch for you. Getting exposed to challenging projects at a younger age will expand your thinking and capabilities, which almost always leads to greater responsibility and rewards.

5. Be bold and adventurous: Join a team of entrepreneurs who are exploring new ways to conduct business in your field of interest. Take a chance now; you have your whole life to play it safe.

6. Job security: In a typical organization, 80 percent of the work is done by 20 percent of the people; strive to be part of the 20 percent elite group, and you will never have to worry about your job. Employers know who does the quality work and will work hard to keep you employed.

7. Listen and be a team player: Even though college may have given you limited team-building projects, professional work is all about teams collaborating together. If you become a patient listener and a team player, you will never fail. More importantly, when some key team members leave to start a new venture, they will include you.

8. Know the boundaries: There is a fine line between professional time and fun time, knowing when to switch between the two is important but takes time to master. Being aware of this is a good start.

9. Email Etiquette: Professional email writing is both an art and a science, and it takes time to perfect it. Knowing email etiquette early in your career is critical to your professional success.

10. Know the HR rulebook: Ask your manager or others about key HR rules to follow.

-Sandeep Sharma ‘88G