3 Tips for Transitioning to a Full-Time Job

23 06 2015

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Entering the workforce as a full-time employee after just having spent several years of your life in an educational setting can seem like a big switch. After all, there are some definite differences between an office environment and a lecture hall. Plus, working at an ice cream stand near the beachfront every summer for 15 hours a week isn’t the same as working eight hours a day, five days a week.

However, there’s no need to feel like you have to give up everything you know to thrive at work. Work-life integration is the new norm, and these easy tips will show you how your work activities and the things you do during time off don’t have to be entirely separate.

  1. Stay in Touch With Non-Work Friends

Any sort of major change in life can make it harder to stay in touch with people who are nearest and dearest to your heart. As a compromise, some people just focus on making new friends at work. That’s a good goal, because it expands your social circle.

However, be careful not to cut ties with the people who loyally helped you study for that tough French final and even the playmates you had as a child who kept supporting you through college.

One downside to mostly having work friends is you’ll tend to congregate and complain about workplace matters that are stressing you out, whether it’s an upcoming project deadline or a supervisor who seems like he wakes up on the wrong side of the bed every day. Venting can be a good thing, but friends should also help you take a break from work, not rehash things about it.

  1. Know Your Limits

In college, many people had to deal with a workload that was more or less the same as any other person’s in a given class. The nature of academic papers, exams and group projects tend to make people feel like they’re on a treadmill and they have no choice but to keep up the pace. Failing to do so in those cases might ultimately mean failing the class. But now, in the workforce, there’s a good chance things will be different.

Supervisors often give you choices about taking on more responsibilities after you’ve proved yourself. Sometimes it’s tempting to assure them you can do more than is healthy, just because you’re trying to make a good impression.

However, it’s important to know how much you can feasibly do, and try not to go over that limit. Otherwise, you’ll probably find yourself still trying to get work stuff done outside of office hours or at least spend too much time at home fretting about it when you should be doing something more fun and relaxing to recharge for the next day at work.

  1. Understand What Makes You Happy

Happiness means different things to different people. Maybe you have your sights set on saving up for a biking excursion through France or you get a lot of fulfillment from volunteering to teach English to refugee children once a week. In other cases, maybe your idea of happiness is settling down on the couch with a freshly made bowl of popcorn and a favorite film.

It’s essential to not only understand what brings you happiness but also build time into your schedule to engage in it. In some cases, you may even be able to get colleagues in on the fun. Perhaps if you’re an avid biker who likes to pedal to stay fit, you could send a sign-up sheet around your office to see if anyone wants to join you on your outings. That would allow you to do something enjoyable and potentially help you get to know new people. Exercise is also worthwhile because it encourages good health and can keep your stress levels low, too.

These are just a few tips that can ease your transition into a full-time job. All of them will probably be easier to put into practice if you work for a company that makes you feel fulfilled and valued, so choosing a workplace carefully is important, too.

sarah landrum head shotAbout the author: Sarah Landrum recently graduated from Penn State with degrees in Marketing and PR. Now, she’s a freelance writer and career blogger sharing advice on navigating the work world and achieving happiness and success in your career. She’s also the newest addition to the Campus to Career family, serving as a featured contributor on a regular basis. You can find her tweeting during boring speeches @SarahLandrum

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The Benefits of a Semester Abroad

9 06 2015

 

A few years back, this site published an article encouraging students to take vacations in order to recharge, explore a bit, and enjoy new experiences. Indeed, the value of a vacation in maintaining your sanity and broadening your knowledge and understanding of the world is impossible to overstate—and that’s why I’d also encourage any student (who has the opportunity) to go ahead and travel abroad!

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Studying abroad can yield all kinds of benefits, including some of those associated with ordinary vacation along with a range of others. So, here’s why you should study abroad in addition to some tips on how and where to do it.

Gain A New Perspective. The chance to see a different part of the world is the most obvious benefit to study abroad. But beyond the chance to experience a new place in a personal or recreational way, you can also gain a new perspective on your studies. As International Student put it, you’ll find out about “different styles of education,” whether that means different hours and requirements, different focal points in the classroom, and so forth. Seeing how other students study, and what they focus on, can be surprisingly enlightening.

Really Learn A Language. A lot of universities still have some foreign language requirements, but many students tend to take these studies only as far as they need to in order to graduate. There’s nothing wrong with this if you’d rather focus your efforts on other classes, but it’s a shame to come so far with a language only to slowly but surely give it up! Studying abroad at a destination where your studied language is spoken is a wonderful way to complete your language education in a more lasting and meaningful way—and you never know when it will come in handy in your future endeavors.

Have Some Fun. This one speaks for itself, but I’d hate to leave it out! Fun is different depending on where you go abroad, but part of your intent should always be to let loose and have a good time—it’s healthy!

Take Advantage Of Currency Exchange. This is a handy tip for those looking to study abroad, and one that will help you to have even more fun. It shouldn’t entirely dictate where you study, but a favorable currency exchange can help you to worry less about finances while abroad. This is a particularly interesting factor in 2015, given that Europe is more financially accessible to U.S. students than it has been in a decade. Case in point: the latest charts at FXCM showing the relationship of the Euro to the U.S. Dollar reveals that 1 Euro is equal to about 1.09 Dollars—the closest they’ve been to even in many years. Again, this isn’t something that should totally dictate your decision, but it’s a factor to keep an eye on for students worried about budgets while studying abroad!

Keep Career Goals In Mind. Since I’ve covered cultural education and recreation, I should also mention the potential benefit of abroad experience in your career. In part of a debate about studying abroad in The New York Times, one point of view was that “globalization is here to stay.” The article goes on to say that the cross-cultural experience a student can gain studying in a different country is vital for many industries and pursuits. This is a broad perspective, but a true one. It’s also a perfectly good reason to choose your destination and program with your own career goals in mind.

All in all, there truly are innumerable good reasons to study abroad, if you have the opportunity to do so. Whether you’re looking to enhance your education, start setting up your future, or simply have a great time – or all of the above! – a semester abroad can be both eye-opening and productive. It’s something I’d recommend above just about any other pursuit for a college student.

So, all of you students reading this: what are you waiting for?!

****For this post that has us catching the travel bug, Campus to Career thanks Paul Bryant!!****

About Paul: Paul Bryant is a freelance writer based out of New York who covers finance, investing, and similar topics. When he’s not writing, Paul enjoys travel, playing guitar, and testing out the latest tech gadgets.

Photo credit: Bjorn Simon, UnSplash.com





Getting the Most From Career Fairs

2 06 2015

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For the recent grad who has experienced tossing a cap and switching a tassel, a career fair may be the next best step in a journey to finding a job. Career fairs are full of eager recruiters, on the hunt for the ideal candidate. And, like a swarm of bees to honey, they’re full of hundreds of candidates vying for the recruiters’ attention.

A career fair is your chance to network with recruiters from dozens of companies, and ultimately to sell your skills to them so you can land an interview. So, you better take plenty of time to prepare – or risk losing out on some great opportunities.

Here are a few smart ways to prep before a career fair to ensure that you stand out with a positive, lasting impression:

Put Together a Resume

This may seem like a no-brainer, but a resume is like a ticket to a show. You need one in order to get in. Be sure to list all applicable experiences, like internships, grade point average, relevant coursework and extracurricular activities.

Do Some Research

Find out which companies are going to be at the job fair, and choose three to five to target. Get to know as much as possible about them by looking at their webpages, scanning over their mission and values statements, and by reading their recent press releases.

Look for companies that put a lot of focus on employee happiness and well-being, as these are the ones who know how to keep a long-term employee-to-employer relationship going.

Tailor Your Resume to the Chosen Target Companies

If, for example, a target company specializes in design, come up with a creative resume that shows your design capabilities. In addition to design, you can tailor your resume to highlight the specific skills and accomplishments that match their expectations. Recruiters don’t have long to look at your resume, so make sure it’s easy to read and makes it clear how you are a good fit.

Plan Your Route

You’ll have a list of all attendees, and maybe even a map, and now that you know which companies you want to target you’ll have a base plan. You’ll want to plan out which companies to visit in order of your interest, since lines can sometimes be long and unpredictable. Also try to plan a few of your “secondary” interests in case you end up with extra time at the end. Organize your materials in this order, if necessary.

Perfect Your Pitch

A good pitch is short, succinct and well-rehearsed. It covers the questions before they even get asked and is persuasive. It’s your chance to sell yourself to the employer. Why can’t the employer go one more month without you in their office? What do you have to offer? Try to answer these questions in a 30-second pitch that includes the following:

  • An intro with your name, year in school, and major
  • Your plans for the future
  • What you’ve done to get there (your experience, involvement in related clubs, internships, etc.)
  • How the company fits into your plan (why you want to work there, basically)

Once you have your pitch done, practice with a close friend, or consider asking a neighbor. You’ll want to be able to say it clearly and confidently by the time you’re at the career fair.

Come up With Questions

There shouldn’t be any awkward pauses in conversations with recruiters. Think of a few conversation starters to break the ice, but also be sure to prepare thoughtful, practical questions to ask once the conversation gets going. You should ask a few burning questions about the company that would be nice to know, such as “Are there specific career tracks within the organization?” and questions about the recruiter, like “What made you choose this company, and why do you stay?”

Try to show your knowledge of the company by incorporating bits of information into your questions. If you know there are opportunities for ongoing learning, but the website didn’t share details on them, ask for specifics. And, whatever you do, do not ask about something that could’ve been found easily with a Google search – or even worse, is on the recruiting materials.

And, always, ALWAYS be sure to find out about next steps and how to follow-up. If you forget this part, all your networking may be for nothing.

Press Your Outfit

You want to dress to impress, so make sure you have your outfit planned and pressed so there are no last-minute outfit disasters. Dressing like it’s an interview can do wonders for your and the employers’ confidence. Consider modest business attire that will show just how serious you are. For additional tips, read this article at Monster.com on dressing for career fairs.

Print Out Copies of Resumes and Writing Samples

Multiple copies of everything should be readily available for handing out to prospective employers. Make more than what you need so there’s enough to give to the target companies, as well as any others that may be eye-catching. There are often multiple recruiters per company, so keep that in mind, too. It’s better to be over-prepared than under.

Organize

Not only is it necessary to get all of the paperwork that you’ll be handing out – resumes, writing samples, etc. – compiled, organized and easily accessible, it’s important to know where all of the paperwork you’ll be receiving will go. This includes a place for business cards that will be key to follow-up calls and emails, as well as pens and paper for any impromptu job applications. It’s best to have a portfolio with a notebook and business card slot.

I always had a sheet with specific details I wanted to bring up to recruiters hidden behind the notebook in my portfolio. I would jog my memory before introducing myself, and then take a few quick notes afterwards. Having a few details about your conversation recorded is a great way to keep track of what next steps need to be taken, and personal information is great to bring up when you send them a thank-you after the event.

When it comes to career fairs, organization and preparation are key. Wandering the aisles of a career fair can be daunting, but with a little prep work, it’ll all pay off when a job offer is made.

sarah landrum head shotAbout the author: Sarah Landrum recently graduated from Penn State with degrees in Marketing and PR. Now, she’s a freelance writer and career blogger sharing advice on navigating the work world and achieving happiness and success in your career. She’s also the newest addition to the Campus to Career family, serving as a featured contributor on a regular basis. You can find her tweeting during boring speeches @SarahLandrum