Things a New Grad Should Know When Entering the Workplace

You’ve passed the classes, worked hard to enhance your resume, made it through the interview, and accepted the job offer…Now, it’s your first day on the job. You know all of that was the easy part, right?

Though we undergo countless transitions in life, some small and others monumental, all pose new hardships and shape us in one way or another.  The transition into the workplace post-graduation is one that is both intimidating and exciting, and definitely monumental. There are a few things you should know before starting your new job, and you should remind yourself of these often.

  1. It is okay to not know it all – in fact, you’re not supposed to know it all! But, instead show up eager to learn something new every single day.

I think this is especially important for all of us in the business of providing professional services, not just new graduates. You see, things are always changing, and if we do not stay in an ‘eager to learn’ state of mind, we will not be capable of providing the best service to our clients…which is what this profession is really all about, right?

As new graduates we often enter the workforce believing that school has equipped us with all the knowledge necessary to excel in our profession. And while education is extremely important and provides us a strong and sturdy base to build upon, education alone cannot fully prepare you for the workplace. The best part about all this: the people around you know this. They do not expect you to know everything about tax planning or all the ins and outs of tax law, but if you show up eager to learn with a thirst for knowledge, people will pour into that.

  1. Don’t let the learning curve intimidate you, but instead let it challenge

The learning curve that accompanies a new position can be extremely intimidating, especially if you’re surrounded by co-workers who have more experience, more certifications, or more education. But instead of allowing yourself to be intimidated by the learning curve, allow yourself to be challenged. Countless studies show that it can take up to eight months for a new employee to fully adjust to a new job, so don’t be discouraged if you don’t know everything by your second month.

  1. Be a team player, lead where you can, and execute opportunities.

You are now part of a new team—a team where everyone has different skillsets, so don’t be afraid to utilize your skillset. At some point or another you will probably be assigned a task that is not exactly your ‘ideal’ line of work. View this as an opportunity to prove to the team that you’re willing to help out where you’re needed. When opportunities arise for new projects, don’t be afraid to volunteer. In fact working on different projects will only broaden your knowledge, perspective, and inhibit growth. When leadership opportunities arise, execute them. Be confident in yourself. You’ve earned this position. Don’t let your hard work go to waste.

  1. Find a mentor.

When brainstorming ideas for this blog, I was curious if I was the only one who perceived this transition to be much easier than it actually has been, so I decided to get some opinions from a few of my classmates that have also recently transitioned into the workplace. More than a couple of them reiterated the importance of finding a mentor. Find someone that you can call on after a frustrating day or week at work, someone in a similar field who understands the stress you may be feeling. Do yourself a favor, find a mentor, and invest in that relationship!


  1. Setting yourself a routine has never been more important.

Many of us fail to realize the amount of ‘free’ time that college provides. You won’t begin to realize the amount of time you actually had until you’re at the office for eight hours five days a week! It is important to get yourself into a routine and stick to it – and it is most definitely okay to go to bed before 10 o’clock (or maybe even 9 o’clock) every night of the week. Drinking water, exercise, and adequate sleep is even more important now than it used to be. In order to excel at work, you must be both physically and mentally healthy, so don’t allow your new busy schedule to take over to the point that you forget to take care of yourself.

Communication is the key to growth within your new position. Do not be afraid to talk to your supervisor or manager about any concerns or issues that you may be dealing with. Your employer has made an investment in you and they want to see you succeed, so if there are things that you believe can help with that process, voice them!

  1. Lastly, don’t sweat the small stuff: give yourself some grace and remember that you have earned this position, and you deserve to be where you are.

Your first few weeks and even months in this new career may be tough and there may even be times where you feel like you don’t deserve the position you are in… you are wrong. You have earned this position, you have worked hard to get where you are—be proud of that, but don’t stop here. Continue to be better, continue to grow, continue to learn and you will slowly see yourself develop into the professional that you always knew you were meant to be.