Like many students, you’ve been in school for years. In fact, you can’t remember a time when you weren’t studying, thinking about studying or feeling guilty because you weren’t studying. Sooner or later, though, the warm sea of academia will heave you onto the shore of reality and you’ll have to adjust to the working world.
If that thought itself fills you with dread, you’re not alone. Moving from full-time student to full-time professional can be a shock to anyone’s system. Here’s how to prepare for the transition early, while you’re still in school.
1. Set a schedule
Gone are the days of sitting around in your pajamas. It feels luxurious, but it also means that life and work blend, making time management difficult. Instead, treat school like a job. If you don’t have an office, claim a table at the library or student union. Be at your desk by 9, take a lunch break, and leave by 5. When you get home, you’ll have the evening to yourself and the satisfaction of having completed a full day’s work.
2. Keep track of time
When you work, are you really working? Journalist Laura Vanderkam writes in The Wall Street Journal that many people think that they work more and sleep less than they actually do. The key, she suggests, is to keep track of your time. Write down how you spend each hour for a few days. Then evaluate how you could better spend your working time. If necessary, disconnect your computer from the internet to minimize distractions.
3. Set (and keep) deadlines
In the workplace, you won’t be successful if you start a big report the day it’s due. But that’s often what students do. Instead of waiting until the night before, practice setting and keeping smaller deadlines. Plan backward from the due date. If you know that you will need a week to find sources and two days to write a draft of your research paper, write those deadlines into your planner, too, not just the big one.
4. Dress the part
In order to feel like a professional, you need to dress like a professional. Plus, when you feel good about how you look, you will be more confident in your work. Begin by wearing dress pants and sweaters to school rather than jeans. If you can afford it, start building a professional wardrobe around a few classic items, such as a dark suit.
5. Try an internship
If you’ve tried everything and still can’t convince yourself to see school as a job, maybe you need some external motivation. A part-time internship forces you to be on time, dress up and keep deadlines because you’re not the boss.
Is it time to make the transition from being a student to being a professional? CareerBliss has millions of jobs.