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Going to Work: What College Didn’t Prepare Me For

With the graduation season upon us, and as a recent grad myself, I've been reflecting on what I've learned since receiving my diploma and entering the workforce.

As a college-bound, high school senior I was a bit naive. Like most of my freshmen brethren, I had no idea I was about to live the next four years of my life in an elaborate world of make-believe. When we graduate, most of us are under the impression that we’ve been fully prepared for what’s next. This belief penetrates so far into our psyche, we believe we know what’s about to hit us as we enter the workforce and join the “real world” as “real adults.”

I recently left the insulated world of higher education myself. Sure, there were the expected newfound everyday responsibilities – I was now paying for my own place, food, utilities, phone, and insurance. What I didn’t realize was how much I still had to learn when it came to the workplace, something that became readily apparent to me when I joined Media Junction.

3 Tips to Make the College-to-Work Transition Easier

While I enjoyed my college experience and learned a great deal, I was unfortunately delusional in believing that I was being fully prepared for a post-school life in the professional workplace. As such, I’d like to share three things that inhibited me as I transitioned from “college kid” to “bona fide adult."

School Tools vs. Work Tools

One of my professors used this software development platform called Netbeans (I have yet to meet someone outside of my school who has used it). Now, while it is a legitimate tool, using it exclusively is about as useful in the real world as a dime at an arcade. My professor used this tool for every class because it was easy for him to grade. Unfortunately for myself and the rest of his students, exclusive use of a niché tool only hampers our marketability to prospective employers.

Pro Tip: A little independent research into the tools and methods you’re using at college can go a long way in helping avoid a rude awakening later.

Problem Solving Skills

Everyone learns differently. There are literary, auditory, visual, and kinesthetic (tactical) learners out there. There are students who can learn from one teacher, but not from another. The sooner students figure out their learning style and the sooner professors accept that’s how they learn, the more students can grasp and retain knowledge.

Pro Tip: Identify your preferred learning style. Becoming consciously aware of this provides numerous benefits, such as making the most of a workplace meeting or brainstorming session.

Interpersonal Development

I spent much of my time at college in a building full of math and computer people – within four years of my own age – who liked dark, quiet places and didn’t want to talk to anyone. I guess you could say we were your stereotypical math and computer nerds. Since joining Media Junction, I’ve worked with a diverse group of people with varying personalities, interests, and ages. Had I not been fortunate enough to live with five roommates (each drastically different from myself) my post-graduation experience would have been much more of a shock to my introvert psyche.

Pro Tip: Find and associate with people different from yourself. Sure, they may make you want to pull out your hair, but it will broaden your worldview and give you practice for the workplace.

College isn’t going to prepare you for everything, and learning certainly doesn’t stop once you’ve been handed your diploma. Do yourself a favor and proactively prepare yourself now. Trust me, it’ll make the transition to the so-called “real world” that much easier.

Interested in joining me at Media Junction? We're always looking for talented individuals to join the team.

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