The college experience is designed to prepare students for a fruitful career and/or continued, specialized study in graduate school. If you are a recent graduate this year, here are four lessons you may have learned while in college that can help you a great deal in the future:
1. You must demonstrate initiative
In higher education, professors do not peer over your shoulder or verify your progress each day. Instead, they assign you a due date and provide you with general guidance. You must complete your assignments in a timely manner.
The professional world functions similarly. While your supervisor is available to offer advice, the deliverable (i.e. a document, a presentation, or a suggested course of action) is yours to produce. Resourcefulness—and willingness to add value to projects—is key. Here is some more great information on what college graduates should know.
2. Each task involves a grade
This lesson, while not new to you, is important to remember in the professional world. You will be judged according to the work you produce. Like college, many projects will carry significant weight, and each task counts.
Your performance will likely be assessed on an annual basis, rather than per semester. Many organizations assign you “grades” in multiple areas, such as independence, initiative, time management, and willingness to work with others. It is in your best interests to aim for an A, or its equivalent.
3. Collaborative skills are invaluable
We have all weathered a group project. Certain individuals thrive, while others dread such assignments. The professional world revolves around collaboration, and learning to work well in a team is imperative for recent graduates. These are some great tips on how to deal with group projects that can help you during and after college.
In the business world, however, there is one primary difference: your role is defined. One team member typically functions as the project lead, while other co-workers fill specific specialties. If you do not complete your portion of the task, no one will do your work for you. No one will make excuses for you. And if you are most comfortable assuming leadership, you must likely adapt to taking direction from others.
4. Strike a balance between the personal and professional
You live with, socialize with, work with, and in certain ways, compete with your classmates in college. At times, it can be difficult to be both respected and well-liked by your peers.
You will face the same conundrum in the professional world. You will spend 40+ hours each week with your co-workers, and with luck, you will attend company parties, meals, and other social events. To be successful, you must be both well-liked and respected. Typically, the person who only arrives, completes his or her work quietly, and then leaves does not advance along the business ladder. However, the class clown of the office is just as unlikely to succeed, because he or she is not seen in a serious light. Here are some great tips on how to network as a recent college grad you may find useful.
You may discover that your balance initially tips toward the professional during your first years in the working world. Ultimately, learning how to manage the two impulses will help you advance, enjoy your colleagues, and lead a satisfying life.
Best of luck to recent graduates in your future endeavors!