After approximately 18 years of education, you are now ready to make the switch from university to work. Or, are you? While university life can be a hassle, it is also one of the most exhilarating and challenging times of your life. The memories will stay with you forever, but it is time to make the transition and switch from university to work.

Work life is more rewarding as it comes with a paycheck, but that’s the catch. While you get rewarded for your efforts, you also have to make many changes within yourself in order to change from your study routine to your professional routine.

If you are struggling to adjust, here are 5 steps that will easily help you switch from university to work:

Sleep Routine

You may have had a flexible class schedule during your university years and may have had classes at 11am or later in the afternoon. However, work days usually begin at 9am every day and you usually need to follow the same routine day after day.

This does not mean that the switch from university to work is going to result in a boring, monotonous life. In fact, it may be rather exciting and interesting depending on how well you get along with your colleagues and bosses.

But first – you must sleep! (that is, if you’re not one of those people who’re more alive than the Energizer Bunny after just 4 hours of sleep. Yeah, we all hate those people!) Make sure you go to sleep earlier than you did in university. Call it a day at around 12am to be able to get in those 8 hours of sleep before work (this usually works for the normal people among us, not the Energizer Bunny people. Remember, we don’t like those).

Colleague Relationships

You may think that your colleagues are the same as your classmates, but the harsh truth is that they are not. While you may get along with your colleagues and develop good friendships, you must adopt a cordial and professional attitude towards them. Sadly, you can’t share all of your feelings and ambitions with everyone, because, well, competition and jealousy are quite the thing, you know.

Plus, you can’t choose who you work with while you can choose friends in university. The switch from university to work also means a change in your interpersonal skills. Make sure you are polite to all your colleagues and work on developing a cooperative environment. Do not simply scowl at those you do not like, it won’t work here.

Check out: 5 Reasons to Enrol in an International Masters Programme

Adopt a “Can-Do” Attitude

Are you one of those people always whining while doing your homework in university? While slacking sometimes meant bad grades, most of the time you could get away with it, easy-peasy. However, once you make the switch from university to work, it is time to become more serious and efficient.

Pro-tip: “Efficiency” is your future manager’s favourite word.

Truth be told though, a “can-do” attitude will get you quite far, while slacking will probably lead to nowhere, and by “nowhere”, we mean out the front door and back to the labour pool. This does not mean that you have to work every minute (nobody does that), but make sure you do not come across as lazy and inefficient. Be punctual, ask questions where needed, and finish the work you are assigned. If you think it is genuinely too much for a day, politely inform your boss how long it will take you to complete it.

Dress Appropriately

While we are not trying to be judgmental here and the switch from university to work does not mean changing your personal style, you may have to modify it a bit to suit the work environment. This is important to be taken seriously in order to look presentable while operating in a professional environment.

If you are used to t-shirts and sweatpants, it might be time to switch to collar shirts with proper jeans or dress pants, depending on your work environment. For more formal meetings and conferences, you may want to buy a suit. Don’t worry, wearing a suit is super cool too and you can always purchase your favourite colours and spaz it up with your favourite jewellery if you are a female or a super cool tie and cufflinks for the males.

Just make sure nothing you wear is neon, it may be a tad bit too bright for work.

Check out: The Different Types of Masters Formats

Set Goals

You may have simply wanted to pass your courses while in university or wanted to achieve a specific GPA at the end of your term, but it is important to set timely goals when you switch from university to work. For example, make sure you choose a job that you like or aspire to work in a department that interests you. After all, you are going to be there for a long time.

Additionally, if you seek a promotion, a salary increase, or other forms of recognition, set time-restrained goals for achieving them.

The work environment is often times more competitive than university and while many may score excellent grades in university, that awesome promotion programme that HR is advertising since December last year, may only have one winner. 

It may sound tough but the rewards for switching from university to work are greater and more “real” than those achieved in university.

Work is serious business, but watching all of your university education being put to use is an extremely gratifying feeling, so follow these simple steps and watch your life steadily become much cooler than before.*

(*Guarantee does not apply; no warranty on returned lives)

Curious about the evolution of the Master's degree? Read about it here: A Masterful Evolution