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by Isabel Sperry | August 22, 2016


The transition from college to the working world isn’t always easy. Sometimes it can feel like everyone at your new office knows what they’re doing except you. So to help you succeed, we’ve compiled several strategies you can adopt, taking the skills you honed in college and applying them to your new job.

1. Develop a running project list

At school, you probably had a consistent laundry list of to-do items, from returning library books, to meeting a friend for fro-yo, to finally doing your laundry. At work, creating a tangible list of projects you’ve been assigned can help you manage your time and prioritize assignments. This can be as easy as making an Excel sheet that includes the name of a given project, relevant notes, the due date, and a column to check off once you’ve completed a task. Then, if you ever need to reference the projects you’ve finished, you have a curated list ready to go. You might also consider creating a folder that contains copies of all your best work. This can be a portfolio of sorts; if you ever want to show your boss an article you wrote, or apply to another job that requires samples of your work, you have many options to choose from.

2. Play an active role in meetings

You probably learned that in order to absorb any information during a college lecture, you had to take notes. The same principle applies at work. For every meeting you attend, make sure to bring a pen and pad of paper so you can jot down important points. You’ll thank yourself later when you forget the specifics of a certain project and are able to refer back to your notes. Also, be sure to speak up and voice your opinions in meetings. Just as in seminar at college, you never want to be known for not contributing to discussions. Your company hired you for a reason, and the only way to make your opinion known is to engage and share your ideas.

3. Get to know your colleagues

Just as you asked friends to get lunch in the dining hall at school, make a point to get to know your colleagues at work. Take the initiative by grabbing coffee or setting up a quick meeting with a colleague you’d like to know better. Making an effort to get to know your coworkers can benefit you in the long run, especially if you need to work with them on a project or ask them to connect you with someone down the line.

4. Manage your emails and calendar effectively

In college, it was often easy to let your emails slide and pile up in your inbox, and there were few repercussions if you never replied to messages. But at the office, forgetting to respond to a client email can be disastrous. It’s essential to develop a system for categorizing your emails by importance and filter, so that you stay on top of them. The same thing applies to your calendar. While you may not have needed a calendar to keep track of your college obligations, you definitely will now that you’re juggling multiple meetings, calls, and appointments a week.

5. Take advantage of company perks

Just as you were involved in extracurriculars at school such as varsity teams, a cappella groups, or Greek organizations, you can take part in various activities that your company offers outside working hours. Whether it be company yoga, Tuesday softball games, or even happy hours, take advantage of these opportunities—they’re a fun way to get to know your coworkers. In the end, it’s really the people and company culture that can make or break your work experience, so the sooner you get involved, the better.

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