I’m transitioning…. from student to professional.

5 tips on how to make this transition a success

That degree you worked so hard for is finally yours. You even successfully applied for that job that will kick start your career. Party time is over because you mean business!


However, the first steps into the professional world are not always that comfortable.

You have to work with people you have never met. You are not entirely sure how to meet the expectations of your boss. And on top of that, the organization that you start to work for is maybe not as well structured as you expected it to be. Mmmmm, doubt, frustration, what to do?

Here are 5 tips to ease the transition into the professional world…


Start managing your manager

Your boss needs your time, and that is legitimate. What isn’t legitimate, is just dumping all kinds of tasks, deliverables, projects, … on you. Although you can’t really manage time, you can manage how it’s used. And sometimes your boss just needs some help in realizing this. Time to manage your manager!


  • Tell your boss when you’re reaching saturation point.
  • Make your boss aware of the consequences if they try to overload you. “Yes I could get that done by then, but that would delay this…”
  • Don’t say yes to everything your boss asks you to do. Negotiate!
  • Ask your boss to prioritize when they give you a list of tasks.


Spend some time to get to know your manager and what they expect. This allows you to find out what works to convince them to invest in you. Do they prefer to read info? Then keep them in the loop via mail. Are they good listeners? Organize regular one on one talks with them to explain your progress. Everyone comes with an instruction manual. Even the boss! So make sure you have “read the manual”. Luckily, no assembly needed!


Cherish your inner Hercule Poirot

To make sure you really know what is expected from you, you will have to ask some serious questions: What are the concrete deliverables that are expected from me? In what way should I report back? How often will we meet to talk about my progression? Who do I contact to ask for help? How do I get the resources/info I need? Where can I find the people / the information I need? Etc.

Your manager and teammates are not always aware that the answers are still a big unknown for you. By asking these questions, you “manage” them even more to invest the necessary time in you. And once you have found out the answers to all your questions, you can activate ‘your little grey cells’ and go back with an answer: “Here’s what I can do: …”


Know nothing and be proud of it

Being the “new kid on the block” always seems daunting. Especially when you are surrounded by people that have loads of experience or that have a huge expertise. It might seem that you don’t have much added value to bring. Think again!


The fact that you can look at things without bias and bring a fresh and new perspective is immensely valuable. Your inexperience is also your quality! It’s even one of the top reasons why companies hire new recruits: their unbiased, untainted view. So, dare to challenge by asking “stupid” questions: How does this work? Why do you do things this way? Showing your eagerness to learn and your desire to understand the operations of the organization will challenge others to reflect more on their approach. Maybe you can even teach them a trick or two!



Explore strange new worlds

Starting in a new organization is always an opportunity to discover a whole new world. People use a mysterious vocabulary. They have some special rituals you are not aware of. And why oh why is there a sign posted on the elevator doors saying you should use the stairs?


Investing time in learning about the company values and culture is essential. You need to do this to fully understand the sensitivities of the organization. Get to know the mission/vision of the company. Have a good look at the organizational chart. Spend some time at the coffee machine with your colleagues to chat about what they appreciate in the company. And don’t forget to subscribe for the next company event.


Stop being selfish

At school or university, a climate is developed where you work towards certain, pre-defined milestones: tests and exams.  The bulk of the work has to be done by you, and you alone. If you fail a test or an exam, you are most often the only one to suffer the consequences (except maybe for your local pub that might not see you as regularly anymore 😉).

However, professional life is not about sitting tests and exams. Companies expect you to constantly deliver. Deadlines need to be respected. This means that you have to work towards these deadlines on a daily basis. And most importantly: the work you do has an impact on an entire team or organization. Not achieving a goal, has proper consequences: it causes delays, results are lagging and customers are not happy.

Not to worry:

Teamwork makes the dream work! Luckily you have your team members, other colleagues and your manager to support you. Everything becomes a team effort. Adapting to this “team” mindset and performing on a daily basis becomes your new way of living. It puts you on the road to success. It pays to stop being selfish!

Looking for more support to ease your transition into the professional world? A traineeship it is!