After many, many years of schooling, you’ve finally earned your post-graduate degree, and you are ready to start your career. Congratulations! Making the transition from being a post-grad student to being a professional in your field can be a bit daunting, though. It is a huge change and the first year or two is often more challenging than many people realize.
Entering the professional world is a brand-new experience. As a post-grad student, you were at the top of the ladder, so to speak. You had several years of schooling behind you and you were nearing the finish line. Now that you’ve crossed that finish line, though, you have essentially found yourself back at the beginning. As a new professional, you lack the years of experience that other industry pros have, and you may end up feeling like the “new kid on the block” all over again.
While starting off as a new professional can seem overwhelming, there are things you can do to make the transition a bit easier. Here are a few of our favorite tips for transitioning from post-grad to professional.
Mentally Prepare Yourself
If you were a full-time graduate student, transitioning to a working professional will likely make you feel like you’ve lost a lot of freedom. As a student, you likely had a lot of flexibility in your schedule that may not exist when you start working in your field. Mentally preparing yourself for this is extremely important.
Start thinking about how your life will be different when you are a professional. Consider all the things that you will need and want to accomplish within a typical week, and start planning out your schedule. Realizing that your life will be different after graduation and coming up with a plan in advance can make the transition much easier.
Update Your Wardrobe
The clothes that were well-suited for the classroom may not be right for a corporate office. You don’t need to get rid of your fun clothing altogether, but you do need to invest in some grown-up pieces that are appropriate for your industry. Invest in quality clothing that is in line with what other professionals in your field wear and you should be fine.
If you are going into a start-up job, you’ll have a bit more freedom in terms of what to wear than you’ll have if you are entering the corporate world. Even if your new employer welcomes t-shirts and jeans, though, you should still update your wardrobe with pieces that are nicer than the ratty shirts you’ve been wearing since high school. Consider buying nice t-shirts in bulk. Plain t-shirts are wardrobe essentials, and when you buy them in bulk, you can get a lot of clothing for a little bit of money. As a bonus, buying your shirts in bulk also means that you will need to do laundry less frequently.
Save as Much Money as You Can
Adulting is expensive. There’s no denying that. And when you are first starting out as a professional at the bottom of the pay scale, it may feel like there isn’t enough money to make ends meet. Things may be tight, but it is important to save as much as possible. Overspending is a common pitfall for many new professionals. It’s tempting to try to keep up with your colleagues, but doing so can get really expensive, really fast. Remember to live within your means rather than trying to keep up with the lifestyles of others.
Start putting money in savings. Even if you are living paycheck to paycheck and can only spare $5, it’s better than nothing and, in time, it will grow into a healthy savings account. You never know when something might go wrong and building up your savings account creates a safety net that you can rely on if you face a major unexpected expense, job loss, etc.
Make Getting Enough Sleep a Priority
Bedtime is not the time for a Netflix binge session. While you may have been able to make it through your classes on just a few hours of sleep, you need to be well-rested for a day filled with adulting. Head to bed at a decent time and don’t lie in bed staring at your phone or a television screen.
While you think that surfing Facebook or catching up on your favorite show is a great way to unwind, it could be keeping you up later than necessary. The type of light that comes from screens can disrupt your sleep cycle and make it more difficult to fall asleep and get a good night’s rest. To avoid this problem altogether, we recommend making your bed a screen-free zone. If you do, you will find it much easier to fall asleep and you will likely wake up feeling rested and ready to take on the world.
Take Care of Your Body
While you were in school, you may have lived on a diet consisting primarily of takeout and food from the campus dining hall. Now that you are embarking on your adult life, though, it’s important to start taking care of yourself. Learn to cook, and start making healthier food choices. Prepare your own meals most days instead of eating out. Also, be mindful of what you are putting in your body.
If exercising hasn’t been a priority, now is the time to get into a routine and make it one. Try a few different options to find out what you like. Going for a run at 5 a.m. may not be right for you, but you could discover that you absolutely love yoga. Find an exercise method that you actually enjoy and you will find it much easier to stick to.
Transitioning from post-grad to professional can be challenging, but with the tips listed above, you can get through it. Remember that it is an opportunity to start over and live your life exactly how you want. Now is the time to embrace good new habits and work toward building the life of your dreams.
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