What College Didn't Teach You

More and more college students are eagerly approaching that golden date of graduation. It is a time to celebrate your hard work with friends and family. Furthermore, the degree is a symbol of prestige, education, and triumph. Let’s face it, college is not a walk in the park. Six months after graduation, Sally Mae will also remind you that that triumph came with a price tag. Wouldn’t you like to graduate knowing that the expense of college and the journey throughout the years were all worth it? I’m going to assume that your answer is yes. I am going to also state that I am the biggest advocate for pursuing higher education. However, there are just some things that college did not teach me in preparation for what some call the “corporate world” and/or the “real world.” I will share just a few from my own personal experience.

  1. There are DO’s and DON’TS of the work place – In my experience, I have always held a part time job or two while pursuing my degree. My first “big girl” job was largely different than ringing up customers at American Eagle.

DO Be cordial to EVERYONE! Yes, this includes being cordial to that older coworker that always seems to give you the evil eye for no earthly reason. You NEVER know what “higher up” person is watching you. Can you truly expect to get a promotion managing a group of people if you cannot even manage your own emotions and stay professional? (Do not expect everyone to like you just because all of your professors and friends did. It is America. The reality is that everyone is not all sunshine and rainbows about life but you will still have to effectively work together and communicate).

DO Ask questions and take notes! This is important! Asking questions shows that you are interested in more than just doing what is assigned. It shows that not only do you want to be the best at what you are doing but that you are willing to learn MORE. Taking notes are equally important as asking the questions. It allows you to go back and refer to a piece of information without asking the same question a million times. Keep a notepad!

DO If you wake up in the morning, get dressed, look in the mirror, and question your outfit in the slightest then DO NOT (I REPEAT, DO NOT) wear it. Granted, some work places are more relaxed on their dress code than others. However, it is always best policy to be modest in the line of professional work. Dress for the career you want and not the job you have. It will go a very long way!

DON’T Do not mix business with pleasure. What do I mean? I hate to say it but I have to completely REAL. Workplace employees are not always your friends! Sue me. I said it. While I do encourage you to be cordial, I do not encourage you to take part in gossip or put your trust into someone you barely know. Furthermore, be mindful about adding these coworkers to your social media sites. Consider the ramifications or rumors that may be started from sharing what seems like a simple post to you. It is always best to keep your personal life, personal. Don’t get me started on office romances...

DON’T Do not assume that your education or experience at a previous jobs makes you 100% prepared for your new job. Different jobs come with different politics, procedures, and culture. You have to be open to change in any career field and open to complete learning. Do not disregard your education or experience because that is what got you there. However, do not be close minded and think that you know everything there is to know!

DON’T Insert exclamation points when sending emails to your coworkers. Also, don’t “reply all”. Trust me, this information will go a long way as I have made this mistake. Know who you are wanting to relay information to and REREAD YOUR EMAIL. You may think that you are not being rude or brash in an email but always pretend that you are the receiver when you reread your email. If anything could be mistaken as rude or unprofessional then DELETE and start over!

This is just the surface for advices on transitioning into the corporate world. We haven’t began to scratch the surface of classism, racism, sexism, and other issues that college doesn’t always prepare you for. There are very real situations that do exist for ALL types of people of all races.

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