Several months have passed since college graduation, and many have moved into new jobs. As the distance between work and college increases, some may feel a lull, missing their college days and wondering why some of the excitement is gone.
One of the interesting life transitions is from college to company. College is a special experience. We have a mix of responsibilities, expectations, and fun. We are in a community in which it is easier to meet new people, find new friends, and build lasting relationships. Our work is learning and proving that we are learning.
We then have to leave this special place and enter a new one called the “workplace.” We shift from primarily a learning space to primarily a working space. A culture gap appears. Depending on the company or organization we join, the gap may be small or large, but a transition begins. We transition:
- From determining our schedule to having our schedule more defined
- From a space to explore and discover to having boundaries defined
- From a professor guiding with defined expectations to a boss with less defined expectations at times
- From people eager to get to know you to people who are unsure whether you will be worth their time
Although some of this may sound harsh, it is the reality too often. The similar trait between college life and work life is nothing is certain, and we do have self-control in how we approach the opportunity and what we will make of it.
From College, the Classroom Experience
One way to extend our college experience is to create a classroom experience without the classroom. When we think through what we do in college, we can take our approach and create it within our workspace.
Our classroom experience or workflow likely follow these five elements:
- Preparation: We read, take notes, and get ready for each class. We want to participate, or we may get called on. Either way, we want to put our best effort forward.
- Participation: Participating in class is what creates an energy inside us and raises our awareness of an issue or situation along with our self-awareness.
- Conversation: After the classroom experience, we want to continue the conversation with our network of friends. Whether in the cafeteria or our dorm rooms, we want to engage in thoughtful, and sometimes argumentative, discussions – all with the goal of proving our point or learning another point-of-view.
- Homework: Outside the normal assignments, if a topic piques our interest, we dive in more. We search for articles or read more than required. Some of this may feed into bigger written assignments, but part of it may be just filling up our curious minds. We want to learn and become the expert in certain areas.
- Performance: A report card is always a part of education. We are evaluated in some way, and we know where we stand regarding our performance.
- Possibility: In college, we see the possibility. Possibility in discovery. Possibility in learning. Possibility in what lies ahead during a summer break, an internship, and a class. An excitement in “what is next” is felt deep inside.
From College to Workplace (Your Work Flow)
The life transition from classroom to the workplace can carry a similar approach and mindset. Each of the six elements applies, shifting to our new work flow.
- Preparation: Understanding the internal operations, product positioning, sales process, support and services, and other functional areas of the business are essential. In a real sense, each area is a class by itself. To put our best foot forward, we need to dive in and get up-to-speed. Preparation puts our talents to work.
- Participation: Participating is active listening and thoughtful questions. Participation is doing the work and collaborating to get the work done. We build upon the work of another person and, together, we accomplish tasks and move projects forward. Through these interactions, an energy develops.
- Conversation: By going to lunch with different individuals or in breakroom conversations, there are opportunities to participate, learn, and engage. We begin to build our network and our reputation. We engage in thoughtful discussions – all with the goal of enhancing our point-of-view and expertise – functional and industry.
- Homework: Outside the office four walls, we can learn more from the industry and our marketplace. We search for articles or read more than required. We find the experts and read their perspectives. We leverage our curiosity to learn more and grow as a contributor to the business. Eventually, we begin to become the expert in certain areas.
- Performance: As in most things, we need to perform and deliver results. We are evaluated by peers and colleagues, our boss and their boss. Delivering results is a continuous effort and responsibility. Performance reinforces our confidence, and our performance reinforces confidence in other stakeholders.
- Possibility: Through each element, we see the possibility. Others see possibility in us, too. An excitement in “what is next” is felt deep inside.
When the organizational culture is right, the work flow elements work well for all involved.
Our Activated Work Flow
As I look at these elements, it strikes me that the first four create a foundation that support our performance. When we perform, possibilities open up. Our foundation supports our activated work flow.
The fourth Aspen Truth is true. When we Convert to Thrive, we feel activated in our work and our possibility. With the right root system (foundation), we step up. We step out of our classroom and into our work flow. We are in the flow moments of work. Challenges still face us, but we are in a good position for a fruitful career.
The after-college lull can be avoided by transforming our past classroom experience into a work flow experience. College is a step forward. Work is another step forward. In each, we have a choice.
- We can be laid back and perform in a mediocre way.
- We can exert our self-control and activate our work to perform with strength, depth, and recognizable results.
Always make the second choice and avoid the first.
If our workplace culture is not right, our work flow discipline will enhance our talents and personal brand. Finding the right place with the right culture will happen more easily when we do these things. Or, we will start a company and be well-positioned to build the right culture to attract and retain the right talent.
How are you leveraging classroom experience in your new work experience? Share your ideas and thoughts!
Join the Conversation
How to Flow from College to Workplace