College To Corporate America: Tips For Transitioning From School To Your First Job

Congratulations, New Graduate! After four years of the exhausting midterms late-night study sessions, and simply the overall stressful process of finishing school and trying to land a career — you’re ready to transition to your first corporate America gig.

Now that you have landed your dream role – how do you succeed in your first job?

I’m going to share with you a couple of tips that I wish I would’ve known when graduating college. The scary transition from school to work is a huge milestone that is often overlooked. Now, you are entering into a new world – it’s going to look different and feel different. However; you have been equipped to handle the transition. In college, you determined the caliber of work that your professor received. Flip the switch: in the workforce, your job is the main determiner of the quality of work that shall be received, and if it’s less than their expectations, then that will come with some extra precaution from your employer moving forward.

This is a new challenge for you and I completely understand, learning how to navigate the workforce is super important as this is the beginning of the rest of your professional career.

Embrace These Few Tips When Entering Into Your New Job.

Day 1 – What First Impression are you leaving behind?

I call it the 3 E’s (Enthusiasm, Energy, and Excitement) these key components are super important when showing up to work, it’s definitely a game-changer. People prefer to work with someone who brings the 3 E’s to the table. Attitude is super important, and nothing will halt your career more than a bad attitude when showing up to work. Within this be vulnerable –  it’s okay to be transparent about where you are with others and how they can support your growth.

Day 2 – It’s OKAY to be a newbie

Embrace the fact that you are new, and are not familiar with how everything works in the workforce. It’s 100% OK. If your employer expects you to know everything about the company from day 1, it’s probably not the right organization for you anyway. Show up with your positive attitude and deliver on the small tasks. As a result, you’ll begin to receive more complex projects mainly because you were willing to ask for help and get the assistance that you needed. At the end of the day, you’re here to learn, not to be perfect.

Day 3 – Ask for help!

I remember when I first entered the workforce, I was literally on top of the world. I honestly thought that I needed to PROVE something to all of my coworkers when in retrospect it made me look as if I was a “know it all” not willing to accept feedback and grow. OUCH! I never wanted to be viewed that way.

So here is my story, I was the guy who did everything right from high school through college. I received good grades, I was the President of organizations, I played sports, I had a lot of friends, and overall I was never used to failing. That was until I hit a wall at my job that literally forced me to ask for help. After I did, it made everything much better. Looking back I wish I would’ve asked for help a little earlier.

Day 4 – What’s your brand?

How do you want to be viewed? Do you want to be seen as a leader? I always heard the saying “dress for the job you want, not the job you have” and I took that and ran with it, not only is this speaking to how you show up in-person, but also how you show up virtually.

Think about it this way – what’s your dream job within your current company? Do you see that person who is in that specific role daily? If yes, start to emulate the dress styles of those who have proven themselves successful. On top of this take some time to fix up your social profiles. Yes; it’s probably time to get rid of the high school cheesy picture on your Instagram, and clean up the Twitter profile.

Day 5 – Is your Network your Net Worth?

I’ll cut right to the chase, YES, YES, and YES it is! We’ve all heard the saying “It’s not about what you know, but WHO you know.” It’s safe to switch that up now that you have landed your first big-time job to “..but who KNOWS you”. Make it a mandate to start building your professional network and maintaining great relationships early in your career not just with your specific team, but across the organization.

Day 6 – How are you approaching your work?

When I interview students I always ask them “What does work ethic mean to you?” Sometimes the way we approach how we get work done totally makes the difference. A strong work ethic puts into perspective that you take your job, duties, and the organization seriously.

So, show up on time to work. Make sure you’re delivering on projects on time (ahead of time). Make sure you’re paying attention in lengthy meetings that could have easily been sent via email. Make sure you’re engaging others during conversations and meetings.

Find ways that you can be consistent. If you want to be promoted, I promise you they are coming after the person who shows that they are committed and trusted to get things done.

By Teron Foster
Teron Foster University Relations Recruiter for the Northeast and Southeast