Transitioning from College to a Career

by admin on September 7, 2011 · 10 comments

Structure and discipline. While these two items might seem fairly trivial at first glance, they are two of the more significant changes many will face when transitioning from college to a career. Of course the amount of change and adjustment required for these two areas will vary greatly depending on one’s previous full-time employment history.

The schedules and work required for a full-time position are different from those for an academic schedule. Most academic schedules are not eight or nine hours per day, nor are they continuous. One of the best things about the academic system is that people have some amount of free choice in their scheduling. You can register for later classes or earlier classes; you can try to schedule entire days off, and so on.

A typical full-time college student has somewhere between 15 and 25 hours of actual class time spread throughout the week coupled with varying amounts of homework, research, writing, and other activities. So the total amount of work in a college week might be the same number of hours as a regular job, but the schedules are different.

Just as the structure of your schedule will change when you move from an academic life to a work life, your concept of self-discipline will have to be adjusted. Discipline is what turns the chaos of transition into the organized routine of structure and there are several strategies to help with this transition.

Obviously it will take some getting used to, but it’s not impossible. If you’ve ever wondered how your parents can get up so early every day, it’s because after a while their bodies acclimate to the routine. Soon enough your body will get use to the normal work week too. With that in mind, its important to get the sleep you need to be productive during the work day.

In addition, many employers will offer a variety of work schedules. It’s important to work with your employer to find a schedule that fits you best. I used to be the college student with classes all scheduled late in the day or at night, but now I prefer to get to work fairly early. This allows me to keep some outside influence in my routine; work, gym, dinner, free time, sleep, and repeat. There are probably just as many people who would prefer to work from 9 to 5 rather than from 6 to 3.

While working a full day may seem daunting at first, I’d recommend that you take short breaks throughout the day. Going outside and enjoying some fresh air or taking a little walk to get some exercise may not seem like much, but the short break can do wonders. I would also recommend keeping a healthy diet. There will be many times throughout the day where you’ll feel hungry, and it’s important that you’re eating healthy foods to keep you going. For example whole-grain breads, whole fruits and vegetables are rich in fiber, which provides a stable supply of energy throughout the day.

All these strategies are key, but for me the most important piece of advice I can give is to figure out a schedule that works best for you, allowing for both maximum productivity and the necessary free time to pursue your interests.

Editor’s Note: The author, Kevin Sheil is a former Workforce Recruitment Program intern who now works as a Wage Hour Investigator for the Wage and Hour Division. This is the third of a series of posts by Mr. Sheil highlighting the various skills, abilities, and knowledge that can be acquired through the WRP.

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Eric Law September 7, 2011 at 3:22 pm

You are absolutely right on with this post. I think having a background with structure and discipline from our armed forces can give you a big leg up when it comes to work and college.

2 Joe September 7, 2011 at 5:09 pm

Great article. I love the fresh air idea.

3 Pamela September 7, 2011 at 7:29 pm

Nice, though it still does not allow to know how to cope with many actions about other people wanting you to continue college, school, ectra. It does not help you to cope with the cost of many gift cards, credit cards, and credit score cost.

4 Bonita September 8, 2011 at 4:19 pm

This article is very informative, I only wish that a work schedule was the only problem with obtaining and adjusting to the work force upon completing college. I served in the military for over twenty-three years. I am structured, disciplined, and just earned a degree as a full time student, the problem I have is there are no jobs to offer anyone a schedule to adhere to.

5 tour van rental September 12, 2011 at 7:53 am

Discipline is what turns the chaos of transition into the organized routine of structure and there are several strategies to help with this transition.

6 Las Vegas Workers Compensation Attorney October 3, 2011 at 6:51 pm

Reading this took me back to my law school days, and I couldn’t agree with you more about the first point you make about structure and discipline. Everyone needs to know that even if you have the best education available, best GPA, best attendance; get ready for everything to get a lot more difficult when you venture out into your career of choice. Once you finish college, it is not just your grades you have to worry about, it is your livelihood. I agree that managing your time properly and figuring out a schedule that works best for your particular needs and personality can help take a lot of stress out of your job. Very good post, I am going to email this to my son (currently studying law at Cornell) to read. Thanks!

7 how many calories does walking burn December 6, 2011 at 10:56 am


Thanks for this post. It’s very informative.
I’ll send it to my friends to read it also.

Thanks again.

8 Resume Website January 3, 2012 at 7:00 am

It is a such kind of post which we get after a lot of search. Coming to the point college life is meant to see the dreams and when you enter the job field it depends how ahead you go to compete them.

9 Oyun Oyna August 6, 2012 at 4:03 am

When you first come out of college and dive into workforce, it may be a little overwhelming. But as the time passes you get used to it. Just a little patience.

10 John Jones April 30, 2014 at 2:57 pm

Organisation is key. As the saying goes: “fail to prepare, prepare to fail”

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