5 Things I Wish I Knew About Professional Life Before I Left College

While college presents its own challenges, entering the workforce is a whole different animal and its enough to make any post-grad sweat. Thankfully, I learned a few things along the way that can make your adjustment to professional life a little bit easier.

1. You’re not the only one

For better or worse, I was not the only post-grad living with my parents and working a part time job just so I could put gas in the tank. There were plenty of other people in my exact position. While that brings momentary solitude, it was not an excuse to feel any better about the situation. Every day needs to be attacked with the idea that you’re competing against those at your level, and only then will you get your chance to establish yourself

2. All Your Skills Are Useful

When you graduate with a degree, your skillset is (hopefully) not just limited to one specific area. No matter the position, skills outside of the job description can always be utilized to provide valuable insight or allow you to go above and beyond the call of duty.

3. Get in a Routine / Stay Organized

You’ll also notice how devastating unexpected events can be if you’re not prepared, be it a surprise meeting or someone not returning your call when need them to. While these types of things are inevitable, establishing a routine and structure to your day can help to alleviate the stress that can come with the unforeseen. Calendar notifications will be your best friend before you know it.

4. Taking Care of Yourself Is Not Optional

The time for pulling all-nighters ended as soon as you got your diploma. In order to be successful in a professional environment, your body needs to alert and well rested. This doesn’t necessarily mean rushing to the coffee pot first thing in the morning. Eat some breakfast. Drink some water. Pack a lunch with some fruit instead of heading down the street for a burger and fries. The better you take care of yourself, the better you’ll perform from 9–5 and beyond.

5. You Can Ask Stupid Questions — For a Little While

Any time you start with a new company or find yourself with some new responsibilities, you’re going to have questions. More often then not, it’s encouraged that you ask about how to do something the right way, as opposed to doing it the wrong way and having to spend the time fixing it later. But beware — this honeymoon period has a time limit, so ask your questions once and take note moving forward.