Starting your first full-time job after college can be an exciting and stressful part of life. The changes in schedule, responsibility, and financial freedom are very sudden and it can take some time to adjust your lifestyle. June is here. That means most graduations are behind us, and recent grads are preparing to start new jobs. Recent grads have new challenges during this transition since they are coming out of school and going into the workforce under unusual circumstances.
If you are like me, you’re always looking forward to the next challenge and constantly trying to find the best way to approach things. I interned with Veritas Total Solutions last summer and then started full-time in January after graduating in the fall. While I made the transition from college to the workforce during a more stable time, a lot of the lessons I learned hold true. Here are some tips that I found useful while making the transition, that were applicable then and are now.
Set goals early
Even if you are unsure of the exact path you want to take in your career, it’s probably a good idea to set some short-term goals. At Veritas, we promote personal growth and encourage employees to set goals for themselves at the beginning of every year. It may be tempting to set some very lofty goals for yourself but remember to be realistic about what you can achieve. If you are unsure, talk to a mentor about what paths you can take within the company.
Remember that you are in transition
This one can be particularly difficult for some people, myself included. When starting a new job, you may set high expectations for yourself and want to get good at your job as soon as possible. In most cases that entails quickly learning certain tools, business processes, or best practices as soon as possible. In our new environment, that process may be slowed. Keep in mind, no one is expecting you to be a Pro on your first day. Take your time and ask questions! After a few weeks/months, you will look back and realize how far you’ve come.
Manage your finances
Given a sudden change in income, it may be tempting to start spending more than you were used to in college. For many recent grads, it might be enticing to go on extravagant trips, buy a new car, or eat out more frequently. It’s important to set a good foundation for yourself on how to manage your finances, especially in a such a volatile market. Setting a budget early on and keeping track of your expenses can help you reach our financial goals. Check out this guide from nerdwallet on building a budget https://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/finance/how-to-build-a-budget/ . I’ve found that they provide great information on many financial topics that may be unfamiliar to recent grads (credit cards, taking out loans, insurance etc.) #NotaSponsor
Manage your time
Though work can be very time consuming, you should strive to make time for things outside of work and maintain a healthy work-life balance. Having a daily routine and keeping a calendar can help you stay organized and track how you are spending your time outside of work. Personally, I am a fan of habit trackers because they help you visualize how you spend your time and keep you accountable. Starting a new job and moving to a new place can take up a lot of your time and headspace and you may find yourself talking less to friends and family. Set some time aside for a quick phone call (or Zoom meeting) every now and then. Communication goes a long way.
Take advantage of company resources
Many companies offer benefits such as health insurance, 401K matching, and employee training allowances. You should take advantage of these benefits as early as possible, especially the 401K matching (if your company offers it) since it is essentially “free money” that you’d be missing out on otherwise. You’ve probably heard this a million times, but START SAVING EARLY!!
Get to know your team
I had written most of this blog pre-COVID and I wanted to add this last point. Since many companies have adopted working from home, you may not get the traditional office setting for quite some time. Take some time to get to know your team! Whether that be video chatting with them before/after meetings, using a chat like MS Teams or Skype, or calling them on the phone. Although its hard to replicate the office setting, communication is key to building relationships and effective teamwork. These are strange times we are living in, but one of the silver linings I have experienced is getting to know my coworkers and seeing their families pop in every now and then.
Starting your first job out of college is a challenging and exciting part of your life. Though the changes in work schedule and income level can be quite sudden, you should take some time to take a step back and set some goals for yourself. Remember, with or without the new challenges created from COVID-19, you are going through a transition. Enjoy the process just as much as the destination!
Veritas Total Solutions is a management consulting firm. We specialize in various strategy & transformation solutions that enable companies and professionals to transform their businesses. If you are interested in learning more about our specific capabilities, contact us or subscribe to our blog to stay connected.