College to Career: What to Expect

You’re finally in your last college semester, tying up the loose ends of a long scholastic journey. Let’s face it – getting your degree has been time-consuming. Whether you’re finishing your Master’s program, or even wrapping up your undergrad degree, you’re likely completing your 16th or 17th year in academia.

At this point, it seems like school is all you know. However, now you’re almost in the “real world” and have to fend for yourself. After keenly sharpening your school survival techniques, it’s time to develop a new skill-set, one that seems completely foreign and uncertain. Here are three tips for making the most of this next life phase as you launch your entry-level career:

  1. Ask Questions
    In college, many students are fearful of asking questions, thinking it reflects poorly on their intelligence. In the workforce, however, asking well-thought-out, pointed questions, helps showcase interest and understanding. Once you’ve determined the timing is appropriate (no one wants to be peppered with inquiries all day long) – go for it. You’ll be surprised at how willing your colleagues and mentors are to help you learn and grow in your new role.
  2. Know What You Don’t Know
    Your first few days, weeks, and months in a new position come with lots of uncertainty. As a new staff member, expectations consist of totally doable items: show up on time, be ready to work, and have a good attitude. No one expects you to be prepared to spout out accounting formulas off the cuff. Instead, recognize that you’re still learning the process, keep an open mind, and watch just how much your positive energy can impact the team.
  3. Be Okay With Mistakes
    In your first year, and throughout your career, there will be mistakes. The first one will likely be the most unnerving. Know this is part of the learning process. Be gentle with yourself and reach out to your peers to see how they manage when mistakes happen.

Whether you’re on day 1 or year 10 of your career, there is always change and challenges to navigate. In public accounting, teams are established to allow for staff to have resources and mentors in this process. Take the journey one day at a time and remember the value and unique perspectives you bring to the workplace you are entering. Everyone was once the new person. Soon, you too will be able to mentor a new staff as they begin this same journey.