March 31st, 2010
When it comes to transitioning from student life to professional life, late nights, tailgates, and professors, quickly become early bedtimes, office parties, and bosses. While the change may seem overwhelming, it doesn't have to be. You can ease your transition from student to professional by gaining a little knowledge and experience.
You can transition from student to professional by gaining a little knowledge. Potential employers want to see an adult when they interview you, not a college student with a business suit on. Professionalism is more than about how you look, it is how you behave, speak, and even stand. It is also about being respectful and responsible, qualities all employers are looking for in their employees. This is why learning about professional presentation and etiquette, as well as the rules the business world operates by, is critical to a smooth transition. It's likely that your degree plan doesn't include a course on professionalism, but that doesn’t mean you can't learn about it in college. Most universities have career centers that students and alumni can take advantage of. Through informational seminars and career counseling, you can learn about business etiquette, interviewing techniques, job search strategies, networking, and salary negotiation. These services will not only educate you about the professional world, but they will also help you prepare for its expectations, and equip you with the tools to navigate your way through it.
You can transition from student to professional by gaining a little experience. Knowledge means nothing unless you are able to apply it, so find ways to be in the professional world as much as possible. Being a professional is not just about the work that you do, but the people that you meet, so practice networking. When it comes to interviewing and making business contacts, if you don't make a good first impression, it could be your last. The more experience you have with meeting people now, the more professional you will come across later. Gain some experience through an internship, which will give you the opportunity to work in a professional environment. As an intern, you will not only be able to see first-hand how people conduct themselves professionally, but practice doing it yourself. You already know what is expected of you in a student environment, so if are able to get an idea of what is expected of you in a work environment, transitioning to one won't be as difficult.