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Preparing for the Real World

April 19th, 2010

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The transition from college to the real world isn't always easy for new graduates. Many struggle to deal with the new expectations from their workplace, which may differ from an academic environment. In order to minimize the growing pains that come with the increased responsibility, you have to maximize your skills while in college.

As a successful student, you must value time management and self-motivation. Your parents aren't around to ensure that you study, do all of your homework and keep a solid GPA. You do it because you want to earn a degree and live a comfortable life doing work you find fulfilling. At work, you'll be required to perform your duties in a timely manner as requested by your boss. The efficiency and output depends on it. Your ultimate devotion is to the bigger cause to which your work is contributed. That means you'll have to sacrifice your free time to get the job done – and get it done right. If you make a mistake on a valuable project, the repercussions are more severe than losing a letter grade. Attention to detail is a must. If you're an accountant, for example, your calculations and projections must be precise so that your company doesn't lose money in the long run. You'll also be required to solve complex problems on your own using the knowledge you've gained while in college. Those dreaded assignments for which you have to create your own solutions instead of rehashing what was said in the textbook prepare you for such situations. You won't always have something to reference in the real world. Work – like college – is a never-ending learning experience.

Another useful outcome of college is the communication skills you gain. In a majority of fields, your work will depend on your ability to communicate with others. Being a good writer and speaker will enable you to perform your job more effectively. You must able to clearly articulate and write your thoughts, especially if you work in a team. That's why you're required to participate in group projects and presentations in a number of your classes. Familiar with those stubborn or lazy group members who make everything more difficult than it should have been? You'll probably be working with them too. If you treat them with respect, remain patient, and offer compromise, the experience will be less stressful and your work will be of better quality.

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