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College Life to Corporate World

Transitioning seamlessly into the next phase of your life

By: Desiree Atkins

Graduation signifies a person entering a new chapter in their life and is a mark of change. Graduating from college and entering the corporate world is life altering. Graduation is the moment every graduating senior dreams of - until the moment after graduation when you realize you don’t know where to go from there. You think to yourself, "now what?"

The first year out in the “real world” will take time, patience, discipline and a lot of trial and error to adjust. We ask ourselves how someone we look up to managed to land the position they're in or accomplish what they did. How did that person get an internship? How do people manage to set themselves apart and stand out? How do we cope with the feeling of failure if our first entry-level job isn't our dream position? These are all common concerns coming out of college, so you're not alone. But don't sit and fret; now is the time to take advantage of the resources available on Oklahoma State University’s campus.

Courtney Webb, Arts & Sciences adviser at OSU, shared helpful tips and advice for students transitioning from college life to the professional work place.

“Get started on getting into group activities, because once you get into the real world you will be working with people from different personal and socioeconomic backgrounds and all kinds of differences where they look and think differently from you,” Webb says. “So, if you have those experiences in college that will help you advance in the work force.”

Webb suggests everyone start working on their resumes, joining organizations and working to have internships, no matter the classification. It can be easy to feel as though you deserve that top position you’ve been dreaming of while in college, but is it realistic to believe everyone will start off at their dream job? Webb suggests students be content and happy with where they start off in the work place.

“There are very few majors that guarantee you a dream job immediately after graduation, so I think if I could go back in time, I would tell myself not to sweat the small stuff,” Webb says, reflecting back on her experience transitioning from college to a professional work environment .

Webb says not to panic over having a temporary position for a job such as a secretary, going to graduate school upon completion of undergraduate school or even possibly starting your career at your dream job and being at the bottom of the totem pole. Regardless of the blood, sweet, tears and time that you may have put into your bachelor's degree, it doesn’t guarantee you that position or job you want straight out of college.

“This is real life and you can’t come up on top right after undergrad, you have to work your way up,” Webb says. “That’s going to look differently for others, so also keep that in mind.”

Jawauna Harding, OSU Senior Career Coordinator, also gave her take on how to transition from college life to the professional work place. Harding spoke about having to schedule and plan for your week ahead of time, realizing you don’t get breaks, communicating effectively and even having to meet new friends.

“One thing to think about would be, whenever you leave college, it’s kind of that shock of a schedule change,” says Harding. “You don’t realize how different life is going to be when you step into your next career because you’re used to being on a student schedule. Even if you did have a part-time job or worked you still had a little bit of flexibility and freedom and things were put more in your schedule and more on your time, but when you step into the working world, you’re on a different expectation level, a different professional plane.”

Harding says transitioning to corporate life can be a handful. She says scheduling is what sets a lot of students back because in the real world there aren't breaks, and you have to schedule appointments during work, which can be stressful. Communication and planning ahead of time is something a lot of new graduates are not used to.

“One thing I didn’t know about in the very beginning, so probably like my sophomore or junior year, that wasn’t even on my radar, was really gaining experiential learning opportunities, and that means internships and jobs that will help launch you into your future,” Harding says. “I didn’t realize how important and critical that was to finding and launching me into my career.”

Harding says there are a lot of opportunities and a lot of jobs out there so take advantage of the resources offered. She says if she would’ve known about resources available on campus ahead of time she could have saved herself from panicking and stressing during her senior year. Be proactive in using the services available on campus. Visit career services, where Harding and other counselors can look over your resume and cover letters, which can help you stand out when applying for jobs or going to career fairs on campus.

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