From Student to Startup: How to Handle the Transition to the Workforce

December 11, 2015 Jiordan Castle

transition to the workforce

Last year, the American Psychological Association’s annual Stress in America survey revealed — perhaps unsurprisingly — that millennials are the most stressed generation. Of the people surveyed in the latest Allstate/National Journal Heartland Monitor Poll, 80 percent of older respondents believe it’s harder nowadays for younger people to get started. In the poll, “getting started” included things like starting and supporting a family, finding a well-paying, steady job, finding affordable, desirable housing, and managing personal finances and controlling debt.

On top of all that, it’s hard just transitioning to the working world — known as “the real world” to particularly sadistic parents and professors — after college. Here are 5 tips to help recent grads succeed personally and professionally as they join the workforce:

  1. Accept that college is over. With the exception of your frat brothers and chess club friends, no one wants to relive your college greatest hits with you — be it a beer pong championship or the time you hosted an on-campus book swap. Once you accept that, you’ll be more able to fully commit to your new lifestyle.
  1. Make your health a priority. You may have been able to pass a final after pulling an all-nighter in college, but if you don’t get enough sleep once you start working, your work performance will suffer — a fate with consequences scarier than a failing grade.
  1. Give yourself a break. This is easier said than done, especially for new workers. Even virtual workers can forget to take a five-minute break every so often. Take a walk around the block at lunchtime, even read a book for fun on your commute or before you go to sleep. Some fresh air and time away from a glowing screen (that includes your phone) can help keep you grounded.
  1. Engage your coworkers. Work can be lonely when you’re first starting out, even if there are lots of other young people around (and especially if there aren’t). Join clubs at work that interest you, help coordinate happy hours, and eat lunch with coworkers or nearby friends. Tools like Salesforce Chatter can also help you engage with coworkers and share work-related knowledge.
  1. Maintain a support system. Like any post-grad movie will tell you: you will lose certain friends immediately following graduation. The good news is that you’ll keep the good ones and even make new ones. As you’re finding the balance between work and life, make time for the people you care about — calls to family members, weekend brunches with friends — and avoid isolating yourself because you’re too tired at the end of a long workday.

Ascend: an opportunity for new college grads

Appirio is uniquely understanding of the plight of the post-grad, especially when it comes to building a career. Our Ascend program takes 11 hires fresh out of college and takes them through a 3-month hands-on training that teaches them the consulting business. I asked a couple of our most recent Ascend graduates — Kate Jovanovic and Alex Spears — to weigh in on post-grad life and their experience with Ascend:

How was the transition from college to full-time work?

KJ: Scary, exciting, and rewarding. You have just accomplished a major turning point in your life (graduating from college) and now you are being pushed into the real world. New beginnings come with a lot of new responsibilities and opportunities.

How did Ascend help get you started in your career?

AS: Starting a first job, I was extremely nervous — the expectations, the unknowns, the looming idea of failing. The Ascend program helped relieve my anxiety. It gave me perspective on what it means to be a consultant and work at Appirio.

What surprises you most about working full-time?

KJ: What surprises me is how much I love coming into the office. I was also surprised at how much Appirio promotes a work-life balance. They do an amazing job of offering flexible work hours, online fitness classes, and learning opportunities outside of work. I was surprised by how at home I feel at Appirio.

AS: I never thought I would say it, but I love my job. Not many jobs give you the freedom and flexibility that Appirio does. I do not know anyone else who knows their CEO on a first-name basis. Appirio is a place I could see myself building my career for many years to come.


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