In the developed world, more people than ever before are pursuing higher education. Whether it be through college, university, or an apprenticeship for a trade, individuals are spending a greater portion of their young lives as students.
Andrew Kroger, a 29-year-old MBA graduate from Melbourne, Australia, understands the challenges that come with the transition from student to young professional. Life changes when you are no longer a student, he says. You suddenly have a chance to do something new and make your mark on the world. It can be daunting.
As a student, you can get used to setting your own schedule and living on irregular sleep patterns. As a professional, especially in business, you may find yourself working a nine to five job. Suddenly, your whole day is packed with meetings and projects with little time left over for cooking, grooming, and resting. So, says Andrew Kroger, be prepared to adapt. Start meal prepping, organize your week to optimize your time, and make sure you make time for more than just work.
Stay On Top Of Industry News
Whatever field you are in, it is important to stay informed. As a student, your whole job is to learn about the world and how things work. As a professional, you can become tied up in your projects and lose sight of the bigger picture.
Andrew Kroger suggests subscribing to relevant publications for your field and making a point of reading them. Being informed about current trends, new breakthroughs, and knowing which companies are up and coming can give you a huge advantage.
Continue Improving Your Skills
Just because you are no longer formally a student doesn’t mean you should stop learning. Honing existing skills and learning new skills can set you apart while applying for jobs. Long after, a curious mindset and willingness to learn will allow you to shine in the workplace.
Consider working on both hard and soft skills, suggests Andrew Kroger. For example, learning advanced Excel makes you more marketable in a business setting. Or perhaps taking a course in Photoshop will bolster your confidence in graphic design. Both skills are highly sought after in the job market.
Other skills like charisma are less tangible but can make all the difference in a position where you often work with groups. Conflict resolution is particularly useful in customer service and other roles. Soft skills like these can make you easier and more enjoyable to work with and offer your employers better results in the long run.
Adhere To A Budget
Being a student often means counting pennies and eating instant noodles to save a dollar. Suddenly having a steady income as a young professional can be an exciting change. But don’t get carried away, Andrew Kroger advises. Create a realistic budget for your income. If you have student loans, account for that. Consider the cost of living and the type of lifestyle you can afford.
Then stick to the budget. It may mean fewer nights out with friends during the week, but chances are if you’re working eight hours a day you won’t have the energy for it anyway. Make the most of your income by being responsible; however exciting it feels to splurge on luxuries.
Final Thoughts From Andrew Kroger
Whatever job you land out of school, remember that it’s just the first of many. These days, working for the same company for the majority of your career is a rare experience. Even if your first job is a dream job, keep an eye on the horizon. As a professional, you may discover a hundred more paths for your career than you ever imagined as a student.
If the opposite is true and your first job is not what you had hoped, he says, then learn what you can from the experience knowing that it isn’t forever. In business, learning from one experience and taking that knowledge to the next is always a prerequisite.
Transitioning from a student to a young professional can be a mixed bag of emotions. Being realistic with your expectations and making the best of every situation is the key to success, says Andrew Kroger.
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