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The time has finally come: you are about to graduate with that coveted degree for which you worked so hard for. After late nights in the library, endless reading assignments, research papers, internships, and club leadership positions, this is what it has all come to. You have spent hours at the career center doing practice interviews, resume building, and working on your cover letter, and now you have finally landed your first real job and are ready to take on the world. 

You might be tempted to think the hardest part is over and you are completely prepared for the next step. I can tell you from experience, however, that this is the point where your journey really begins. Below are a few tips to help make this transition go a little more smoothly:

1) Do not ditch the planner

In college, planners are an essential tool to keep track of assignments, exams, and other extracurricular obligations. When school is over, you may be tempted to throw it out and stick to your iPhone calendar for appointments and reminders. However, demands of the workplace can make the use of a planner even more necessary than it was in college.

Between work deadlines, grocery store trips, your fitness routine, social events, bill schedules, college loan payments, and so much more, it can be even more difficult to keep track of everything going on when you are in a new environment outside of academics. The more organized you are, the less likely you are to get overwhelmed with an increase of demands. I find the best way to do this is by using my planner religiously.

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2) Do not neglect self care

In college, you may have been used to sleeping in, rolling out of bed last minute, and rushing to class in sweats. You may have stayed up late at night binge-watching Netflix, doing homework, or partying on weekdays. Although it varies by career, many office jobs start early in the morning.

A healthy breakfast and organized routine become even more important when you are busy working all day. Going out on weekdays is no longer the norm. Your body will thank you if you give it adequate sleep and food with nutritional value. You will not only feel better, but you will be able to focus on career goals and meeting deadlines.

Waking up an hour earlier to plan for the day can be extremely helpful to getting a good start to the day. Creating a routine that works for you is essential. Even though it is easier said than done, find an alarm that energizes you. As big as a struggle as it may be, do not hit snooze.

3) Take advantage of opportunities while still in school

Whether it is an internship or an entry-level job, it is just as important – if not more important – than a good GPA for a successful career. Even if you are planning on going to graduate school, employers want to see that you are proactive in learning about your field. It is critical to take opportunities that come your way and to get as involved as possible.

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4) Be patient with tedious entry-level tasks

In college, you study topics related to your major in depth. This might lead you to believe that you are prepared with the knowledge to solve the world’s problems right away. Well, you are not there yet. Your first job probably will not be as exciting as you think. You will be starting at the bottom. Everyone starts at the bottom, regardless of your GPA or the amazing 10-page research paper you wrote about health care policy. Everyone pays their dues.

The world of academia is completely different than the real world. Your boss does not care what you accomplished in college. You might be bored at first doing mundane administrative tasks, but at least you are not an intern. Be patient and you will move up with time and experience and eventually get to what you truly want to be doing. The real world can be scary, but just know that we all start somewhere.

Kristine Bucci