College is chock full of assignments with defined deadlines from an elaborate and precise syllabus. In the professional word, it’s not that simple. This summer I began to learn the ropes of the workforce after being in the classroom for 14 years.
Here‘s what I found.
Your boss isn’t your professor
Students tend to have an interesting relationship with authority. A class often times consists of sitting in silence for 50 minutes while the professor imparts their wisdom in a one-way-communication-style lecture.
It is best to have a dynamic relationship with your boss and build the comfort of two-way communication. Your boss doesn’t hand you a syllabus with deadlines so you need ensure you are in constant dialogue about questions and expectations. Ensure you know exactly what they want, the format, and when they want it done.
The bell doesn’t ring
At school class is over at a specific time, the teacher stops talking, the bell rings and you move to the next class. In the workforce, the bell doesn’t always ring. Meetings and phone calls finish early or go fifteen minutes over- it is not as cut and dry.
There can’t be a bell system built in the office because it is important to let the projects and ideas ebb and flow. Let conflicts get resolved, talk through creative ideas, and live with the process of dialogue because a bell isn’t coming to cut them off. That being said, if you work better on a timed deadline, check out the pomodoro method.
You decide your homework
After 14 years of school, I got really used to the idea of homework. In the office there’s no such thing. In many traditional offices your boss expects you to work attentively during the day and then you decide your what you want to accomplish at night.
This concept does come with a catch, it challenges you to be particularly efficient during your working hours because employers don’t want to pay you extra because you’re not focused. For some taking work home is a rarity, so the level of focus and diligence needs to be taken up a notch during work hours.
Every day is a test
There may no longer be homework, but in exchange every day is a test. No, your boss is not handing you a packet of multiple choice every morning but you will be tested in some capacity every day in the workforce.
You could be questioned by a client, asked for clarification from an employee, or put on the spot by your boss. It is crucial to be prepared and have studied because you never know when you will be quizzed.
It’s not just you anymore
In my 14 years of being in school, the only person who got my grades was me. I studied as much as I wanted, I took the tests, I decided if I went to class, etc. In the workforce, it is not just you anymore.
Your projects depend on more people than just yourself and therefore you are forced to rely on other people. The whole company gets graded together so put emphasis on collaboration and compromise to ensure that symbolic A grade.
After years of being in school the workforce looks very different. Over the course of my internship I learned these valuable lessons I know will help prepare me enter the workforce as an effective team member.