Help ease the transition from student status to your next phase of life and set yourself up for long-term career success.
When I speak with a college/university student or a new graduate about making a successful transition from student to a career, one of two questions are always at the top of their list:
- How do I get a job? or
- How do I start my own business?
[The real world] is a big change, more then you can ever imagine when you are sitting in the classroom thinking about the outside world!”— Anonymous business-school grad
Before answering the questions, I provide three pieces of advice:
- Passion built on commitment, mastery, and pride is the key to a satisfying career.
- Embrace cognitive diversity. Diversity of ideas and viewpoints is powerful. It is the fuel to get a team thinking. Your ability to collaborate with people from different cultures and backgrounds, to cooperative with diverse personalities, and to be a team player is essential in every job.
- Everything you do contributes to your brand and career capital. In business employers and customers pay for your career capital. Some people make $10/hour while others make $1,000/hour. We all have behavioral strengths and challenges. Find out where you stand. Success comes from leveraging your strengths (your superpowers) and managing your challenges.
Owning your life is far more critical than owning the business!
The best way to predict your future is to create it.”— Abraham Lincoln
Do not follow the path of least resistance and go with the flow. Stay true to your values and motivators. You will not last long in a job or company that conflicts with your morals and values, or a position that does not motivate you. Make sure you consider your own behavioral DNA before accepting a new job. From there, continuously check how your job, company, and career fit with your beliefs and motivators.
It’s lonely at the top. 99% of people are convinced they are incapable of achieving great things, so they aim for mediocre. The level of competition is thus fiercest for ‘realistic’ goals, paradoxically making them the most competitive.”—Tim Ferriss
Spending your entire career with one company is now the exception rather than the rule. So, do not fall in love with your first job or company. You may find yourself wanting to move on, or your company may hit hard times and face layoffs. New grads should be thinking about their next move, even if they enjoy their current position. I offer some insights, on how to know when it is time to seek a better job.
Most people will never be successful. The pull towards mediocrity is too strong. All around you is an environment that is trying to pull you down. Without good planning and deliberate action, most people will never escape the pull.
Importance of Planning
If you are still with me, I answer the two questions they asked at the start. The answers are surprisingly similar.
Making a successful transition to a career is all about creating the future you want."
I have previously written about the power of backward planning, where the student develops a vivid picture of where they want to be in a future time. The timeframe typically is one to five years – they create their envisioned future. Once they have that picture, they plan backward from that future to determine the talent stack – skills, knowledge, wisdom, behavioral traits and accomplishments, to make their envisioned future a reality.
While it helps to have a solid vision of what you want your career path to be after graduation, do not panic if your first job after graduation does not entirely fit your plan. Every experience contributes to your talent stack and builds career capital. It takes time to understand who you are and what you want to do with your life. For others, this understanding might not come until even later in life. Keep painting your envisioned future.
I let them know that we provide free resources on our website to assist them on their journey. Have a look at the Hamilton Project. It shows that career paths after college are often surprising and challenging to predict given students’ majors. Students from the same major transition into a remarkable variety of occupations. They also earn very different incomes. Career paths and the earnings differences for students with the same major are pervasive and essential for understanding both the benefits of majors and of college itself. It shows how graduates use their talent stack for many different occupations.
So, you want to be an entrepreneur
Seeing something through to the end and not be satisfied until all is accomplished. This is a central motivation for an entrepreneur. Does this sound like you? A successful transition can be challenging.
If you want to predict your success as an entrepreneur, your behaviors—how you act— turn out to be as important as your education, experience, and skills combined. A good track record as an executive is no guarantee of future success — especially when it comes to starting your own business.
In the entrepreneurial domain, we look hard at your style of thinking, your street sense, and your ‘survivability.’ Toughness, drive, and ego are all parts of the equation. You also need tenacity for the long game that is a small business.
Our first step is to determine the entrepreneur traits that are already in your talent stack. After conducting your assessment, we identify the gaps that you need to fill in and tell you how to fill the gaps.
Founding a new business requires entrepreneur skills along with creative, design, systems, research, marketing, and business expertise. It is very rare that all these skills exist in one person. Moreover, the lifeblood of any startup is sales, marketing, and general business savvy. Once again, these are often specialized competencies. Being comfortable at shaking hands, giving presentations, charming prospects, finding funding, and doing market research is rare in one person. You need more than entrepreneurial skills to keep the entity in business as it finds its feet.
To fill the gaps, you may need more than development. You may need a start-up team of three or four people to cover the full spectrum.
Successful tech startups excel in two key areas – programming and style. It is a rare thing to have a masterful programmer who is also at the cutting edge of creative image, design and knowing what’s cool. Likewise, it’s rare to find a genius graphic designer who’s also a programming whizz. The best are usually specialists.” — Hipster + Hacker + Hustler = Your Tech Startup Dream Team
Entrepreneurs are a primary force behind successful change. These wealth-building leaders are not simply “executing better” – they’re radically changing the rules of the success game in the workplace. For these leaders, creativity is a continuous activity. They always see new ways of doing things, have little concern for how difficult they might be, or whether the resources are available. However, the creativity in the entrepreneur is combined with the ability to innovate. They take the idea and make it work in practice.
You will need to encourage expansive out-of-the-box thinking to generate new ideas. Then be able to filter through the ideas to decide which to commercialize. You need to be comfortable using a balanced “loose-tight” style of leadership. You create space for idea generation and freeing exploration with a deliberate tightening that selects and tests ideas for further investment and development. Looseness usually dominates the early stages of the process. In the later stages, tightening becomes more important to scrutinize the concepts and bring the selected ones to the market. A balanced approach is essential. If you remain loose too long, you will generate plenty of ideas but have difficulty commercializing them.
Still intrigued if you’ve got the right stuff to put your name on the door of your own business? We can help. Contact us. We can help you uncover your entrepreneurial strengths and any areas you might want to develop further to make the most of your dreams to be your own boss.
Tips for a job
Having a degree does not entitle you to a job. It is best to prepare yourself now that most employers will not be impressed with your grades or your education as you are with them. Attending a “name” school or having a high grade-point average are selling points in your favor, that may get you an interview, but not something you solely rely on when getting a job.
Focus less on why employers should be so impressed with your credentials that they should be hunting you down — and more on how you can use your talent and initiative to contribute to the employer’s bottom line. Be sure to tell the employer how you will make a tremendous contribution.
I offer five tips for you to consider when career path charting, that you may find to be useful.
Janice Bryant Howroyd is the CEO, of ActOne Group. ActOne is a multi-billion-dollar human-resources organization with 2500 employees in 20 countries. Ms. Howroyd generously offers five practical tips that will assist you on this phase of your journey:
It’s essential that you pay attention to, as well as research, what your future/desired company/employer is doing in their industry. At a minimum, learn how they are generally performing in the market, any news about their current market position or future potential of the industry. You can search for information from a company’s website as well as conduct your research online. If they have annual reports, get and study the three most recent ones. Annual reports are an excellent investment tool for shareholders and employees, too.
Dress for the job you want, not the job you have
We should all present ourselves in a manner that expresses us properly within the workplace. Your attire should be consistent with the culture of the organization and always professional. Your clothes should be clean. You should have good personal hygiene. If you find yourself looking in your student closet asking the question, “Is this appropriate for work?” It’s not. You need not break the bank to be stylish. Minimalist works well. Invest in classic pieces. Fashion changes, classic does not. Be wise: Invest in stocks, not stockings!
Financial stability is critical to your future. You should intermittently determine the most consistent amount that you can pay to yourself. In The Strangest Secret, Ms. Howroyd discusses that, ideally, it is good to save 10% of your income. Your job must support you and the ability to save a little over time. If your job does not allow for this, see where you can adjust your lifestyle, or build a timeline to get there! Although the amounts you initially start to put aside may be small, it is important that you start, don’t put it off! Make the financial commitment to yourself.
Writing down your goals (long-term and short-term), aspirations and dreams are essential. It supports your ability to see and articulate your desires — your envisioned future. Journaling is a great way to track your progress, provide encouragement that reminds you of past successes, and helps to determine your next steps. Don’t wake up one morning and let where you are in life be a surprise. Journal it all! Journaling forces you to look.
Be Candid and Honest
Communicating with clarity, purpose, candor, and honesty will enable you to communicate with others more profoundly. It allows you to be about your message in more than just your speech. Communication is not merely talking. It’s listening, seeing, and being invested. This way, you can see things as they are, not as you wish them to be. Candor is most useful when it is data supported. When you’re honest, you’re being complete and utilizing the entire picture. Nothing falls out of context.
Final Thoughts on Making a Successful Transition
You will likely spend more than 80,000 hours working over your career. Make sure you do something that you’ll love (or at least like). It is a long haul. Strive to get the best job offers from the best employers. Remember to temper everything you do with a realistic vision of what to expect — it is a journey, not a sprint. Plan wisely and keep shaping your vision of what you want to be.
An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.”—Benjamin Franklin
Why do the world’s smartest and busiest people find one hour a day for deliberate learning (the 5-hour rule), while others make excuses about how busy they are? What do they see that others don’t?
The answer is simple: Learning is the single best investment of our time that we can make. It builds our career capital.
Stay in contact with your college buddies and initiate conversation with your new co-workers. These are the people that will be excited for you when you get a promotion, be encouraging when you accept a new job, and motivate you when times get tough!
Your Challenge — What's Right For You?
Solution - Leverage Your Talent Stack — Build Your Career Capital
Did you know that:
- 40% of College students don’t graduate
- 80% of College students change majors — on average three times
- 50%+ of College grads believe they got the wrong degree
- On average it takes six years to earn a four-year degree
Know Your Natural Talents - Identify your unique behavioral strengthens, develop your passion, choose the right college program to build your unique talent stack further, then and leverage your career capital for lifetime success. We provide free resources and offer insights to navigate the route to career success and satisfaction:
- Powerful Career Advice for Your High School Student
- Who should choose the career of a child – parents or children?
- Parents — Tips you need to know to boost your High Schooler’s career success
- Some postsecondary students and their parents are about to make a $20,000 mistake
- How to help your child navigate a route to career success
- Students — How to Achieve Career Success and Satisfaction
- 5 Essential Career Planning Resources for High School Students