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How to Successfully Transition from School to Work

By ETHAN CLARK The shift from student life to work can be jarring for recent graduates. For most, it’s their first – often rude – introduction to the real adult world and its various challenges. Many end up overwhelmed and struggle to find their feet. If you’re a recent graduate yourself and need some light at the end of the tunnel, we’ve got you covered! Know that most adults were in your shoes once and ended up finding success (eventually), and so will you. Here's how:

Know What You’re up Against

According to the HBR, the biggest hurdles for recent graduates are being held accountable (at the workplace), managing professional relationships, and the lack of consistent feedback. Knowing your challenges and preparing for them mentally (and practically) is half the battle won. You could ask for extra feedback, hone your skills (soft and hard), and learn to take ownership to feel more grounded in your role.

Adjust Your Expectations

It’s okay if you’re not perfect at everything – nobody expects that from you as a recent graduate. What they do expect you to do, though, is be willing to learn and grow. Adjust your expectations accordingly. Some other areas you may have to compromise on include your salary, work responsibilities, and position. Think of everything as an investment in your future. An entry-level job opens up doors down the road.

Learn to Manage Your Time

Even entry-level employees frequently have too much to do and too little time to do. Besides work, you have to look after yourself, make time for family and friends, and see to a hundred other things big and small. You might be surprised by how long just doing your laundry takes (keep in mind that smaller loads take less time to wash). Learning how to manage your time effectively can help you get more done, leave more time for yourself, and just be healthier and happier. Lee Silber can show you how.

Create a Budget

You will also need to learn to be responsible for yourself financially. This can take some doing. Creating a simple budget is a good first step toward financial well-being. The 50/30/20 rule is worth following: Assign 50 percent or less of your post-tax income to your needs (move your lifestyle down if you have to), use 30 percent for wants, and invest 20 percent.

Find an Affordable Place to Live

Rent will be one of your biggest expenses, if not the biggest one. As such, you should put time and effort into finding an affordable place to live. You could move far away, get roommates, rent a smaller place, or rent a room. You could upgrade to a bigger or better place after you start making more money. Filtering by cost on rental listings is a good way to find affordable apartments.

Create a Career Plan

Having a career plan aka professional development plan (PDP) can give you clarity on how to move forward in your chosen profession, as well as help you feel more secure about where you are right now. A PDP involves tangibles like a clear self-assessment, timeline-based career goals, and a resource assessment.

Consider starting a business

Starting a business straight out of college might seem like a wild gamble – but it can and does pay off. There isn’t much difference between running a small-scale business or freelance work and full-time employment. Also, it takes surprisingly little seed money to get started. There are benefits to this approach – you are your own boss, and you define your own success. Forming an LLC can reduce the risk and offer some advantages like tax benefits and easier paperwork. Learn more about how to start an LLC in California.

Don’t ignore your well-being

It’s imperative you look after yourself. If you’re struggling mentally, don’t ignore the problem. Bust stress actively, meditate, think positive thoughts, and seek professional assistance if you have to. Looking after yourself physically with regular exercise and eating good food is also essential.


Go easy on yourself. You may not take to work (and adulthood) overnight – and that’s okay. It takes time to build up new habits and routines (and a professional support network). Success is less of a destination and more of a lifestyle. Whether you’re finding a new home or starting a business, for the best results, be persistent, believe in yourself, and continue to grow and learn.

Ethan Clark is an Average Joe who is passionate about helping people find a fitness routine that works for them. Ethan discovered his love for fitness in college, taking free kickboxing classes at his campus’s fitness center. As he got healthier, his love for helping others get fit grew. He helped his parents find a fitness routine that they both enjoyed, and since then, they’ve gotten healthier…and happier. Today, with Find our Fitness, Ethan helps others find the fitness focus that gives their lives a boost.

Transition, work, school
Some insights and ideas to successfully make the shift from student to worker.

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