Your first 6 months of employment after college graduation

We are constantly thinking of “what comes next” while in college, but it is truly difficult to prepare for an entirely new phase of life. A job after college comes after insurmountable hard work, project after project, hours of studying, mock interviews, resume review sessions, and much more. While we practice time management, hard work and determination in school, there is often a disconnect between “I got an A” and “I got a promotion.” Much like the adjustment from high school to college, the transition from college to a full time job is pretty huge.

Starting a job after college usually consists not only of the job itself but finding living arrangements, often in a new, unfamiliar place. Luckily, many people have made this transition before you, and there are some surefire ways to ensure your first six months of “the real world” are great.

Everybody is a junior once

Most college grads begin at an entry level position, which is great for transitioning. It gives you the drive to learn a lot, work hard, and get promoted. It also humbles you into remembering that you have a lot to learn about the industry you’ve just entered, and that nearly everyone started where you are! From interacting with clients, to the company’s processes, to using new software or programs, there will likely be a learning curve. As you complete sometimes unglamorous tasks, remember that this position is giving you the opportunity to learn and grow, without taking on too much responsibility. And if you work at a great company like WillowTree, even as an entry level team member, your voice will still be valued and heard. You can make an impact at an entry-level position, and that is exactly what you should aim to do.

Over-communicate, over-communicate, over-communicate

If you are experiencing a steep learning curve upon beginning your job, and even if you’re not, be sure to communicate with the people around you! Ask questions, learn from your neighbor, and peer over someone’s shoulder and inquire about their work - you may learn something you never would have otherwise! Often new hires are set up with a mentor, which is the greatest part of onboarding. Here you have a skilled coworker, who is seasoned and respected, AT YOUR DISPOSAL! Mentors are meant to challenge you and start to push you along, but they are also the best resource for anything and everything. If you don’t develop a great relationship out of the gates with your given mentor, make relationships with your other teammates and see how they can push you.

Be a sponge

Learn everything you can. As I said before, talking to a neighbor or asking someone what they’re up to as you walk by are some of the best ways to informally soak up tons of information and help make an impression on people you may not know yet. Look through your company’s projects (without snooping) and see what’s going on. If there isn’t already something like it, introduce InVision boards, custom mood boards and image galleries, to your team to keep current work accessible. It will also help those stubborn designers show off their work even before they think it’s ready and give developers a chance to further see into the minds of designers.

Push yourself, and allow others to push you

Don’t get complacent twiddling your thumbs and answering every Slack message immediately. But you completed your tasks? Great, now ask for more. Ask a coworker if they need help. Learn or begin to master a program or code language you may not be as familiar with. Set up a daily or weekly small ‘assignment’ for you and your mentor to work on to keep sharpening your skills.

Have a good attitude

Be open-minded. Start every day with a smile on your face. Don’t let yourself feel down if you get stuck on a project or are only working on internal tasks. The opportunities will come, but with a great attitude and some hard work, you can uncover chances for yourself rather than waiting for them to be delivered on a silver platter.

Make friends

One of the best things about coworkers in the creative industry is that they are usually like-minded people that you might not necessarily befriend were it not for your careers bringing you together. Embrace your friendly coworkers, and give an extra smile to the ones who might be a little more shy. Having a good culture is so incredibly important to an effective team. You definitely won’t get along with everyone, and the company might be so big, it’s almost impossible to get to know everyone, and that’s perfectly okay. Remember to treat your coworkers with respect because you are all working towards a common goal: success for the company!

Have fun

You got a job! Congratulations! Things are looking up for college grads, with the most recent class looking at the best job market in years. The transition may be rocky, you may be stressed or overwhelmed, but always try your best to have fun! You should be working in an environment (and career field, for that matter) that excites you and makes you look forward to waking up each day. There will definitely be tough days, times where you struggled through a presentation or have a huge deadline it doesn’t seem like you can meet, but when that happens, remember why you are there and that life is short, so love your job.

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