Tips for Recent Grads: How to Adjust to the Workplace

A scale with different weights on the levers: one for work and one for home

The real world — three simple words that have plagued college students for generations.

It’s inevitable that, at some point, every college student has wondered …

What is it like out there?

Will I be able to find a job?

Is my college degree going to be worth anything?

The number of questions can be completely overwhelming.

And then, finally, it happens. A job offer. Whether it’s the dream job or one of many you applied to on Indeed, it happened.

Unfortunately, the euphoria of finding a job can quickly fade if you have trouble adjusting to the new environment. Maybe it’s not having confidence in your abilities, or maybe you aren’t being accustomed to the 40-hour work week. Don’t worry. There are ways to overcome your workplace obstacles.

3 Tips to Easily Adjust into Your New Work Environment

Although everyone’s experience is different, we can all find, to a certain degree, at least some applicability among these tips.

Keep Your Mental Health in Check

In college, students choose when their classes are scheduled, have breaks between classes, and make their own study schedule. Recent graduates are so used to this level of flexibility that it’s no surprise they often feel drained or exhausted at the end of an eight or nine-hour workday.

The solution? Take frequent breaks.

Whether it’s stretching at your desk, munching on a healthy snack away from your computer, or actually taking your entire lunch hour, breaks are essential to productivity in the workplace. So, put down your fifth cup of coffee and stop skimping on breaks because you’re worried you won’t get through your task list.

Reunion Pro Tip One day, when the Reunion Content Team started feeling a little stressed, we decided to add an optional 10-minute walk to our calendars every day at 3:00 p.m. — we call it our Daily Escape. Not only does this encourage team socializing, but it also gives us something to look forward to in the afternoon.

Carefully Craft Your Work/Life Balance

Maintaining a healthy work/life balance is one of the most difficult tasks for many recent graduates when they enter the workforce. I hit the streets of Reunion (also known as Slack) to find out how recent grads at our company felt about their work/life balance.

Emylee Connally, Reunion Marketing Paid Search Specialist and 2016 graduate, is a major advocate for a healthy work/life balance and says: “I don’t find it hard to balance the two because I make a conscious effort to ensure that my work life doesn’t overflow into my personal life and vice versa. I think there is definitely pressure as a new employee, or new to the workforce in general, to put all your effort into work, but I don’t think that’s healthy in the long run.”

Other employees, like Matt Starr, a Reunion Marketing Content Writer and 2016 graduate, find it harder to maintain a healthy balance. “It has been a challenge thus far, but I’m sure it will get easier as I adjust,” said Starr.

But what exactly does it take to adjust? Below are five easy steps to follow to create a manageable work/life balance.

At Work:

Step 1: Make sure your work goals are attainable. There will be days you’ll have to work overtime, but it should not be your norm. If you have concerns about your output or the heaviness of your schedule, reach out to your supervisor — but come prepared with solutions.

Step 2: Be more efficient at work. Take note of when you procrastinate the most and actively work to curb your bad habits. If you hit a daily slump at 3:00 p.m., schedule a break or eat an energy-boosting snack. The more you accomplish during the allotted work hours, the less concerned you will be when you leave for the day.

At Home:

Reunion Pro Tip If you’re struggling to find time to exercise, Sydney Narayan, a Reunion Marketing Content Strategist and 2015 graduate, recommends waking up earlier to squeeze in a quick workout, which can also leave you time to socialize in the evening — but only if you feel like being social!

Step 3: Don’t overbook your social obligations. Occasionally, we can feel pressured to fill our after-work hours with plans and activities because when else are we going to do it, right? Wrong. You need to schedule time for yourself to unwind and unplug — learn how to say no.

Step 4: Unplug whenever you can. Sometimes we have to be available for clients or general emergencies, but there’s no need to regularly check your work email once you’re home. Remember to take a step back; the work will still be there tomorrow.

Step 5: Exercise. I know, you’ve heard this a hundred times — but it’s true. Exercise before or after work can not only improve your health but also enhance your mood and decrease your stress.

Seek Out Tasks That Challenge You

Reunion Pro Tip Amanda Cain, a Reunion Marketing Assistant and 2016 graduate, provided valuable advice when she said: “Don’t limit your choices and don’t underestimate your abilities. I did both for a long time, but once I was forced to look outside of my comfort zone, I realized that there is so much more opportunity than you may think, and you’re much more useful than you give yourself credit for. It’s hard to do, but try to always feel confident in your abilities.”

If you’re like most recent graduates, you were probably hired into an entry-level position. Depending on the company, it’s possible that you have very little control over your day-to-day task list — and that’s okay because you can learn a lot from this process.

As Sydney says, “…learning what you don’t like to do is just as helpful as learning what you do like to do! Give it time and be patient with yourself.”

Instead of lamenting about the tasks that aren’t your favorite, seek out the ones that give you the most fulfillment and actively pursue them. Let management know about your passion and ask to take charge of various initiatives. Don’t expect to get a promotion right away, but your efforts will be noticed.

The tips discussed in this blog are only three of the many ways you can better adjust to your workplace as a recent graduate. More personal steps like balancing your budget or finally getting around to that kitchen deep clean can also decrease your stress levels. It’s about finding your personal stressors and taking actions to alleviate them.

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