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Parents & Family

College to Career: Transitioning to the Workplace

When shorts and flip flops give way to business suits and dress shoes, it is a time of celebration as parents and family members watch their young adults begin their careers.

The transformation from student to career professional is an ongoing one that begins in college and continues throughout the first year of work. The key issues involve:

Practicing Professionalism

From attire and mannerisms to etiquette and work ethics, professionalism is a broad category that includes attitudes and practices. While an obvious transition is the switch from casual dress to business clothing, young professionals also need to demonstrate initiative, strong interpersonal and teamwork skills, and effective communication. Another important attribute that can take time to fully develop is the ability to be poised when dealing with difficult people and/or stressful situations.

Managing Time

Most jobs require employees to be at work at a specific time, take lunch at a set time and have only minimal sick/vacation time. For college students, who may be used to a certain amount of flexibility and change, this regime may seem mundane and prescriptive at first.

Likewise, employees must learn to juggle personal responsibilities with workload expectations, which may include imminent project deadlines, multiple business meetings and social events, and other important commitments.

Facing Career Realities

Entry-level positions, which are often suited to new graduates, can have long hours, low pay and minimal status. As a result, some individuals may experience a degree of disillusionment and disappointment at first. To offset these feelings, young adults are advised to view these situations as stepping stone opportunities to network, utilize their skills and gain work experience.

Experiencing Personal Changes

Living at home or independently can pose challenges with regard to finances, personal accountability and family relations. While students living far away from home may have adjustment issues to being on their own, individuals who return to their hometowns may feel restless at times.

Helpful Tips:

  • Encourage utilization of the BW Career Center
  • Be interested but step back-shopping together for a new suit can be a bonding experience. Your student should assume responsibility for other facets of the job search
  • Build confidence about career-related abilities, talents and personal traits
  • Listen and give encouragement during times of frustration
  • Offer suggestions when appropriate