5 ways to prepare for the real world


The thought of entering the real world can be very daunting for students and young adults who are going into the workplace for their first real job. Emerging into adulthood calls for finding a balance between work and play. It’s imperative to balance your professional and personal life. One of the main components to being successful is by networking and taking advantage of every opportunity that comes your way. Establish a portfolio, gain real experience, learn how things are done properly, and then execute every task that comes your way. If you follow many of these steps, are passionate and believe in yourself, eventually you will obtain a job you love because you are qualified and know the ropes. Get ahead of the game and you will knock it out of the ballpark!

1.  Be prepared and organized

Organizing your schedule and the tasks you need to complete is an important first step towards moving forward. It’s easy to get overwhelmed when you’re taking on more responsibility outside of your classes, therefore, being prepared proves to be extremely beneficial. Keeping a daily calendar is a great way to maintain everything in a structured manner. Brielle Galekovic, a public relations and marketing professional, explains, “A huge plus to a lot of employers, is knowing that you won’t crack under pressure and that you can manage.”  A great way to make stress, deadlines and fast-paced work environments manageable are by making lists and taking one thing at a time. 

2.  Present yourself professionally

The way you dress, behave and carry yourself as a person can make a lasting first impression.  Stephen Milioti, a professor and journalist who has had his work published in The New York Times among various other outlets explains, it’s always better to play it safe when it comes to your wardrobe. “Don't let your clothes overshadow you. Shop for classics that never get old: a classic heel or Oxford shoe in brown or black, a crisp white shirt, [a] navy blazer,” advises Milioti. Then add a few personality pieces that show your own unique style. Milioti who has taught fashion journalism, emphasized, “Just make sure the accessories aren't upstaging the main event: you.”

3.  COMMUNICATE EFFECTIVELY and manage your time wisely

Time management will take you far in your given industry. A great tactic to employ early on, is getting into the office early and submitting your work before the deadline. Remember, time is of the essence. Lindsey Sullivan, a journalist working in the communications field, emphasizes that it’s important to figure things out on your own with the mindset that nobody knows what they’re doing, but if you need help, don’t hesitate to ask for it. It can be nerve-wracking when you’re new to the job, but typically people actually enjoy helping someone out. There will always be someone to teach you something and we will never be done learning – embrace it. “You are going to encounter situations professionally and personally where things need to get done [and you have to] trust yourself. I promise you'll be surprised. Sometimes, you may learn a lesson. And when you figure things out for yourself, it's the best feeling,” says Sullivan.

4.   build business relationships

The contacts you are making now will ensure your career will thrive. Great opportunities come your way when you continuously cultivate the relationships within your network. Kajal Dalal, a business professional working with 5 financial firms advises that networking, professionalism, being cautious of your social media interactions and having an understanding of economics and finance are critical regardless of the field one wants to enter. “Engage in conversation with people at least five years your senior because they’ve been where you’re at in life and can offer insight in ways only an insider can.” Furthermore, Dalal advises the importance of using your peers as resources as you progress in your professional path. “Build meaningful professional relationships with [other] students and maintain those friendships — they will be very beneficial and rewarding.” It really is a small world, and you never know who you may end up working with. Often people find that industries are actually smaller than they seem and everyone runs in the same circles. It’s beneficial to, “start networking early," says Galekovic. "Make an effort to create genuine connections — you never know where that connection will take you.”

5. utilize, engage,network, and particpate

Your support system of family, friends and loved ones are there to help and it’s important to utilize them – specifically when you’re experiencing this transitional stage from college student to young professional. Maintaining a positive attitude is important. Take comfort in the fact that everybody has been in the same boat as you at one point in their careers. Victoria Testa, a college senior in New York City and intern at Archdiocese of New York remembers her experience heading off to the "real world."  “It’s important to join clubs, volunteer and do things that are out of your comfort zone – it’s worth it.” She also explained the importance of interning and working while completing a full course load to learn about balancing responsibilities. “[There's] nothing better to help you prepare for the workplace than actually getting a taste of what the workplace will actually be like,” Testa emphasized. Participate in any panels or workshops that are being offered related to your desired field.

A great way to expand your networking and participate in your industry is by creating your own blog. Galekovic is the creator of the brunch blog The Gilded Bellini and says, “Employers want to see what you're all about and want to be able to analyze your writing skills. In the communication field, it's especially important to be a strong creative writer. Employers also admire knowing you can manage your time with committing to your blog, in addition to other jobs you may have. Not to mention, what comes with a blog is contacts and if you have good ones, then you've already got extra points in the employer's eyes.” Galekovic summed up, “Push yourself to do everything that you’ve wanted to do in the field you’ve always dreamed to be in. Make it your goal to make a name for yourself, and one day you can be an inspiration to someone else who is transitioning from college to workplace.”

Do you have more tips/tricks/stories to share? Tweet me at @xoxokatiegray and while you’re there, check out @cencom and more opportunities on their Facebook page.