College to Career: You’ve Earned It, Now Own It

Now that you’ve nailed your interview and accepted your first big job offer, it’s time to celebrate! Only – *gasp* – you have to figure out how to launch an actual career.

Real life just got…well…REAL

Don’t worry, I’ve got you.I’ve been exactly where you are. Here’s some of the best career advice I’ve received (and have mostly followed…or wish I’d have followed sooner) to help prepare you for this exciting new endeavor.

#JustCareerAdvice: Head Up

It’s tempting to just keep your head low and stay under the radar for the first few days on the job – but that probably won’t put you in a position to grab any great opportunities to shine – they’ll be whizzing over your head.

Ask your new manager to meet with you to firmly establish their expectations,find out any third rails you’d be smart to avoid, important names and faces to commit to memory, and so on.

#JustCareerAdvice: Establish Your Personal Brand

Think about who you want to be in your new job. How do you want to be perceived?

Keep an eye on your peers and on those whom you wish to follow on their career trajectories. How do they dress? Where do they spend their free time? How do they act and interact? What is verboten in the office? Don’t go all “Single White Female” about it, but DO check your behavior against the personal brand you’re hoping to build.

#JustCareerAdvice: Check Yourself

You may have learned the “best way” of doing things in college, but that way might not be the way your manager wants the job done. This may be an opportunity to improve things, or it could be a way to be marked an elitist “know-it-all.” Give yourself a moment to examine the possibility that there is more than one way to get the job done, and – GASP! – your company might know better than even your favorite professors.

#JustCareerAdvice: Think Ahead

It may seem arrogant now, but it’s smart to keep a clear and exhaustive documentation of every “atta-boy/atta-girl” email from a manager/co-worker/client, every achievement, every raise, every promotion and any other successes from here to eternity.

Not only will you need these accomplishments as bargaining chips at your next performance review, you’ll probably want to pepper them into your resume in case the time comes to move out and up to the next great opportunity.

#JustCareerAdvice: Network

Speaking of opportunities – often the best ones live in your network. They may be full of former classmates in the same entry-level boat right now, but those classmates will soon experience successes all their own. And, you’ll be adding current and former co-workers to your list. Eventually, either you or they will be in a position to help one another.

So, DO keep your LinkedIn network and personal profile up to date with those aforementioned successes and DO take time to manage relationships you believe can be beneficial and rewarding on a professional and personal level. And definitely consider joining relevant professional associations and even taking classes or seminars, whichwill not only help increase your skill and invaluableness to your employer, but also help expand your netword.

More College to Career Advice…

Keep watching this space for more on how to make your College to Career transition with style & substance:, @JustineSantaniello on Instagram and @JNSantaniello on Twitter – follow the #JustCareerAdvice tag.

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