Written by: Ryan Centioli, Account Executive
As we near graduation I am writing this as a statement to all of those who I am graduating with. College has taught each and every one of us many things, but one thing that is often over looked is “making the transition from student to professional.” The next two years are crucial in the affirmation of our education and the foundation to our careers.
First, I want to give a bit of background about myself because I know what you’re thinking… “A college student who has not graduated yet is writing about making the transition, what does he know?” After graduating high school I enrolled in community college in an effort to chase my dreams of being a professional athlete, during that year I played community college football and golf. I also worked part time. Shortly after the winter quarter ended I was approached by a manager and offered a new position. This new position required me to drop out of college and commit to full time employment, and that is what I did. For just under three years I worked as a media marketing rep for BMW Northwest and Northwest MINI. I was definitely unprepared and was forced to learn fast when thrown into the fire. I never intended to return to college, but later decided it was the right thing to do. So as you read on, let my experience, successes, and mistakes better prepare us all for the transition from student to professional.
I have found four key things everyone needs to remember when making the transition.
- You are now the small fish in the big pond.
You need to forget the idea of the place you are working owing you anything. You must earn the opportunity to keep your job every day. Trust me, if you don’t, they will replace you. There are plenty of other grads waiting inline. Many college students become familiar with faculty and staff in their degree departments. This causes them to feel comfortable and “phone it in” from time to time. I know it’s true, as a student, I’ve done it!
- Check your personal life, beliefs, baggage, and ideals at the door.
Now that you have graduated, there are no more excuses. You are a professional now and between the time you clock on and the time you clock off, you do what needs to be done, whether you want to, feel like it, agree, disagree, or are uncomfortable. The example I like to think of is when Tiger Woods won his 11th PGA major just weeks after his father died. Woods did not want to play, but knew that he must play. Woods had contractual obligations to Nike to compete in that tournament, and that he did, winning by 13 strokes.
- No excuses, I mean none!
I learned this very early on while at BMW. My supervisor came to me one day and asked if I had a portion of a project we were working on done. I said no, I’ve just had other things going on and hadn’t had a chance to complete it yet. I will never forget what he said next. He says “let me teach you something. In the future I, or any other person in management does not care about why, so don’t tell us, just say no and that you are working on it.” It’s true, don’t give excuses, just do what you are told. Managers want you to complete what is assigned to you, if you give them an excuse as to why you haven’t, they think your pushing it aside and that will make them more upset than not having it done.
- Have fun, make friends, and soak up the experience.
For many graduates this is the first time they will be called upon to handle projects and assignments that potentially, could make or break a company. Especially being a public relations major. You are now responsible for a portion of the organization you work in. While this may seem daunting, use this time to gain valuable experience that you could not get while in school. Make friends with coworkers in other departments and try to understand exactly what they do. Most of all have some fun! We all enrolled in college in hopes of getting in the door at our dream job. Whether you start there or not, you are now a professional, celebrate that!
I sincerely hope all of those who I am graduating with, and those soon to graduate can use this information to better prepare for being a professional. As fun as college was, if you can work in something you enjoy, life will be much more fun. Stay away from the drama, be nice, don’t make excuses, work hard, and give everyone, no matter their job respect.