Career / Career Advice

How I Transitioned From Being A Student To A Working Professional

. 6 min read . Written by Vanshika Goenka
How I Transitioned From Being A Student To A Working Professional

This piece is personal ﹘ I’ve done this twice! 

Here is what the transition from student life to professional life looked like: School ﹘ BA ﹘ working for 3 years ﹘ MA ﹘ working again.

When I first entered the job world, I felt stuck, unable to move forward or go back. However, that feeling passed when I got into the groove of work life. The second time around, I felt more confused rather than stuck. Overnight, I went back to being a student from being an independent working woman. And just as I got used to that, I started working again! 

What no one talks about is the anxiety and discomfort of leaving familiar territory; the grief of what’s getting lost and the excitement for what’s coming.

There is one common thread between the two, however: Even while being a working professional, you can continue being a student in life. Place yourself in a position where you can learn, and things will get easier with time. A key focus area, for a great professional life! 

Here are 5 tips that will help you make that smooth transition from a student to an employee, successfully.These tips worked for me!  

1. Adjust Your Focus 

Throughout our student lives, we were made to focus on what was good for us. We were taught to cater to our needs in the best way possible. It was about our grades, our ranks, our scores, our scholarships, our success. It’s a tad different in professional life!

In your workplace, you have to think about what the organisation needs and figure out a way of providing it. Your skills and talent will now be used to cater to the needs of your employer. It is more about adding value to other people’s lives. 

Having said that, it is easy to lose yourself trying to satisfy your employers. Remember that it is important to grow, learn, and step up at every chance you get, but never at the expense of your own mental, emotional, and physical needs. There is a thin line between serving people in order to learn and grow and doing so while compromising on one’s own values. 

2. Improve Your People Skills

Where there are people, there will be personality clashes. The biggest difference between student life and working life is that you cannot just simply stop talking to someone when you disagree with them. And you don’t have the choice of  not talking to someone just because you don’t ‘vibe’ with them.

There will always be someone whose ideas, notions, or ways of working clash with yours and you will have to be smart about dealing with it. Conflicts affect productivity and efficiency,  Which can impact how your colleagues see you and your future in the workplace. 

Office is no place for games, petty complaints, or bullying. The career objective for fresh graduates should be on how you can maneuver your way through conflict with least resistance and utmost grace, dignity, and honesty.

3. Be And Remain A Learner

Just because university is over, it doesn’t mean that your education is. Work life comes with a different set of lessons that our universities haven’t taught us . After the transition from high school to work, it is for the first time that you will be applying your theoretical knowledge practically – and that is a different ball game. Hence, always work with the assumption that you know less and that you need to keep learning . Your first couple of jobs are more about learning and upskilling on the go. You will be surrounded by people from different backgrounds and with varied talents – this is your time to observe, absorb, and apply.

Seek advice from seniors, understand their trajectories, and invest in knowing more about the kind of work you imagine yourself doing eventually. 

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 4. Expect Your Schedule To Change 

Work life has very different expectations in terms of time as compared to student life. Your time is less your own as your focus changes. This will impact how much time you are left with at the end of a day for yourself, your family, and your friends. Your social commitments will revolve around your engagement at work and that can initially be harsh. You will have to strike a balance between getting used to the new routine and understanding when to stop so that long working hours do not become a habit and an expectation from your employer.

Create healthy eating and sleeping habits, take breaks often, and make time for loved ones over the weekends.

Your social circle will also change over time as you will have to be more proactive about networking and making new connections. A good way to get a healthy start is to join your workplace part-time for a month. This will not only give you a sense of the kind of work they expect you to do but will also help you prepare yourself better. 

5. Create A Budget 

It is easier to spend pocket money than it is to spend your own hard earned money. This is something you will come face to face with once you get your first salary, and beware ﹘ it slips away faster than water! Your first salary is a call for celebration, but it also comes with the anxious act of constantly checking your bank balance in fear that you’ll spend it all. 

Give yourself two months and make note of all your expenses. Based on your expenditure, make a budget for yourself and stick to it.

A great way to do this is by keeping two accounts: one for your salary and one for your budget. Let your salary credit into one account, and then transfer your budget money into a personal account.

This will ensure that your expenses are under control. 

You always said, “When I grow up, I’ll become..” Well, it’s here now! You are what you wanted to become. This is a very exciting time in your life. This transition from student life to professional life will be as smooth as you are mindful about how you are responding to the changes it brings along. No doubt, it feels terrifying. It is a valid emotion to feel. You’ve been a student for so long, and this part of life is just an extension of it with perks ﹘ a salary, independence, and cool responsibilities! Be open to learning, be open to feedback, and your dreams will be waiting for you beyond this terrifying but very exciting phase! 

Updated 11 August 2021

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