One of the questions I get most in my College-to-Career Transition class (EDUC 460) at Radford University is what is the biggest change I should expect in transitioning from college to a career? My answer to this question usually involves changing your mindset from a school mindset to a workplace mindset. Now you are probably asking what the differences between the two are. In my text, School-to-Career Transition, I make the following distinctions between the two mindsets:
In the School Mindset:
- You are the primary owner of your time
- Financial rewards depend on your efforts
- Work and leisure are often fused together
- Work is directed by you
- You have a flexible schedule
- You have frequent breaks and time off
- You have personal control over time, classes, interests
- You have intellectual challenge
- The focus is on personal growth and development
Now let’s look at the Workplace Mindset:
- Your time is often at the mercy of an employer
- Financial rewards are fixed and determined by the employer
- Leisure usually comes when work is done
- Work is directed by your supervisor
- You have a structured schedule
- You have limited time off
- You primarily respond to others’ directions and interests
- Your challenge is organizational
- You focus on getting results for the organization
While these differences do not apply to all job, they are basic mindset changes. How can you begin to learn about the differences in the two mindsets? I believe that volunteer experiences, shadowing experiences, and internships can be very valuable in helping you to better understand and begin to change from a school mindset to a workplace mindset. Another way to learn about the differences between the two mindsets is to talk to (or do informational interviews with) people working in the same field in which you intend to work.
I hope this post helps you to understand the differences you can expect when you do graduate and begin working at your first job after college.
In the two online classes I teach at Radford University (COED 461 – Sections 1 & 2) and EDUC 460 (College-to-Career Transition), I posted a discussion that asked students, “What are your greatest fears and threats you feel in making the transition from college to a career?” Some of the most common responses are interesting and probably speak to how you too might be feeling:
- Finding a job in my industry!
- I don’t have any “real-world” experience.
- Making enough money to support myself in an entry-level occupation.
- Standing apart from other seniors who are graduating across the country.
- Monitoring my negative self-talk about what to expect.
- Finding out how much it costs to live in different parts of the country, or world!
Please remember that these types of fears are being experienced by many seniors planning to graduate and make the transition from college to a career. You are not alone! These types of fears are very common for people going through a major transition, and this is a major transition in your life. In order to effectively manage the transition from college-to-career, you can try some of the following suggestions:
Remember that change is constant and see it as a positive in your life
Try to see this transition as a challenge and exciting opportunity, rather than assuming the worst
Take an active role in managing the transition – seek out supporters who can assist you
Be aware of what you can control (the amount of effort you put into searching for a job) and what you cannot control (the decisions of hiring officials)
Avoid self-doubt and believe that you will find a job and be successful
Think in advance about the type of job you want to search for and the area(s) where you might like to live
Use a cost of living calculator (i.e., http://www.salary.com) to help you calculate what your initial salary would be and how much it costs to live in various parts of the world
Be active using social media like LinkedIn and Twitter
I hope that you find these suggestions helpful. If you are having some of these same types of concerns and fears, please remember that you can make an appointment to talk with a professional career counselor in the Career Services Office in Walker 275. One of our many specialties is helping students who are making this critical transition from college to a career. We can help you search for jobs, write an effective resume and cover letter, develop great interviewing skills, develop a portfolio and online portfolio, use social media effectively, and access electronic search engines in your field.
Be positive….I know you will be successful!