Feel like the professional world is drastically different from college life? Here’s how to navigate your new normal.
The plan seemed straightforward: graduate from college, land a job and then breeze through work like it’s the first day of school. Only you’re no longer a student. And there aren’t any teachers or lesson plans to follow. Heck, some of your office peers have children your age.
You had no idea the professional world would be from college life. Nine-to-five workdays, unfamiliar faces, no more summer vacation (say what?)…It’s enough to make you curl up into a teary-eyed ball beneath your cubicle.
But wait, there’s hope. You just need a few tips to make into the professional world a smooth one. So, here’s some advice:
1. Balance your work and personal schedules.
Years of juggling homework and hectic agendas made you more flexible than Silly Putty. With five minutes to spare before class, you could put the finishing touches on a 15-page paper, shower, get dressed and shower again just to show off.
Now, long workdays and rush hour traffic are sucking away your valuable free time. And with so little freedom to spare, it’s easy to postpone an overdue dentist appointment and leave dirty dishes in the sink.
You can’t ignore personal responsibilities. But letting outside-the-office commitments creep into the workplace can get you fired. So balance your individual and work schedules like a well-oiled teeter-totter, and figure out how to apply for a new apartment without disrupting your office performance. All the while, stay on top of your bills and…
2. Manage your finances.
Being might have provided some funny stories, but your bank account is no longer a joke. Your set expenses, like rent and student loans, can lead to heavy debt if you’re financially irresponsible.
Create a financial journal, track your monthly expenses and budget your personal expenditures like gym memberships, concerts and happy hours. Also, treat savings like a cost and set aside money each month. If you run into any unforeseen emergencies, you’ll have a fund to help with rent and other costs.
Plus, the sooner you start saving, the sooner you can build that retirement home in Hawaii. And when you’re ready to hit the beach, you’ll want those abs to look good, so…
3. Don’t replace exercise with an office chair.
Exercising was a breeze in college; you could sign up for intramural sports or stop by the gym after a two-hour school day. Now, you have to cram workouts into a crowded to-do list. As a result, it’s easy to dismiss your health, fall out of shape and pack on some extra pounds.
Whether you swim laps at 5:00 a.m. or sign up for late-night kickboxing classes, exercising should be part of your daily schedule. Find a workout you enjoy, stick to a routine and adopt . And if you can’t tell a barbell from a treadmill, going to the gym is a great way to…
4. Immerse yourself in a new social environment.
School’s been the basis of your social life since you were a toddler. You recognized every smile on campus and bumped into familiar faces at parties.
Now, you’re likely going to replace your crowd of acquaintances with a smaller group of close-knit friends. outside the office can take some initiative, so experiment with unfamiliar social situations. Taking on new hobbies and being spontaneous will help you discover new interests and make new connections. Go to comedy shows, start a book club, research upcoming events in your area and…
5. Make the most of your weekends.
At last! Two days of complete freedom. No more homework or exams haunting your every move. You can sleep until noon, bathe in the sunlight and melt your brain in front of the TV.
Well, not exactly.
While you should certainly catch up on sleep, relax and socialize with friends, now’s also your chance to exercise, deal with chores, pick up some freelance work and study for grad school. You no longer have a prolonged summer break, so make your two days of freedom count. But try to mix up your weekend routine so you…
6. Don’t get bitten by monotony.
With such a structured schedule, it’s easy for the weeks and months to blend together. Your workweek is full of, well, work. And once the weekend arrives, it’s easy to get caught up hanging out at the same spots, with the same friends, doing the same things.
While structure might have helped you get through school, you also had the benefit of changing class schedules every semester, being surrounded by new people and recuperating during long vacations.
You’re no longer guaranteed variety, so it’s important to actively seek out newness. It’s sometimes hard to tell the difference between having a comfortable routine and being stuck in a rut, so break up your schedule with an impulsive camping trip when you get the chance.
Rocco Brown-Morris is the Content Team Manager for, America’s #1 Resume Builder. Check out them out at or on for advice and tips on all things career- and resume-related.