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Adapting to a New Type of Schedule
You are twenty-something and in the prime of your life. You are contemporary, capable, cosmopolitan, and, well, quite frankly, confused.
Pushed from your comfortable existence as a college student and sent out into the cold reality of life off campus, you face a whole new list of challenges. You have to find a job, relocate to a
Succeeding at school is a lot different than succeeding at work. Whereas school provided you short-term projects with frequent feedback, sometimes the projects at work are more longer term. And the idea of providing feedback makes many a supervisor cringe. In addition, what you learn at school is built on specific, right answers. Finding the right answers at work isn't always easy and it's not always about doing things one way.
Understand the Difference Between School and Work
Life at work is not about the individual; it is about the collective. Many courses incorporate team projects into the curriculum and, of course, many athletics programs involve team sports. Get accustomed to this format.
Yes, you will have individual responsibilities and you will be accountable for meeting your own personal goals; however, you are part of a team and you need to keep in mind how what you do impacts those in your department as well as in the company as a whole.
While school may have primarily focused on challenging you intellectually, work is more about organizational and people challenges. Of course you will want work that tests your knowledge and utilizes your thinking and problem solving skills. However, organizations tend to be highly social. A lot of what goes on is about building relationships -- with coworkers, superiors, customers, and vendors.
Nothing can entirely prepare you for every work environment or what you might specifically experience; however, it is important to understand that work is different from school. In school, you are working toward a grade. At work the stakes are higher because you are working for a paycheck, your financial well being. In school, if you don't go to class, you only hurt yourself. At work if you don't show up, you can negatively impact your coworkers who depend on you.
How to Prepare for What Lies Ahead
While many young adults attending college are mature and responsible when it comes to how they handle their school experience, moving from school into a full-time career means growing up and being responsible.
Be committed. Your work team is counting on you as is your employer. Once you accept an offer, you need to be fully engaged. That means going to work, showing up on time, and doing a good job in a timely manner. Skipping work like you might skip class is not an option.
Find balance. Don't make your life all about your job. Yes, working full time is different than going to college full-time; however, you still need to have a personal life. Be sure to build personal time into your new schedule. Check out our companion article Balancing Your Work and Social Life.
Make the right choices. Know what your want from your career and your employer and lay out a plan to achieve your goals. If you expect to advance your career, be willing to take on more responsibility and learn more than you currently know. Don't expect to get more than you give or give more than you get.
Making the transition from full-time college student to full-time career professional is all about preparing yourself for your new life after school. Whereas your school schedule may have allowed you lots of flexibility, you may find your work schedule is a little more limiting. But growing up is all about adapting and changing.
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