Managing the Study-to-Workplace Transition

  | James Innes

As the immediate sense of relief at having finished your final exams begins to fade, a graduate's next challenge is often managing the transition between study and the workplace. Life as a student and life in the workplace can certainly be very different to each other, and can take some getting used to. However, The CV Centre UK has put together some tips to make the transition that little bit smoother.

Where Next?

There are many options open to the newly qualified graduate and it can be worth considering whether you are ready to move into the workplace immediately, or whether you would like to take some time out first. Independent travel is of course an option, and the summer after graduation can be a good opportunity to see more of the world before your quota of holiday time becomes restricted by the demands of the workplace. There are also numerous scholarships available for graduates, which involve research in universities across the globe. The embassies of the countries you are interested in should be able to provide details of grants and scholarships available in their respective countries. Bear in mind that it is usually a good idea to begin to plan what you would like to do after graduation well in advance to make sure you do not miss application deadlines: for some programs - for example research scholarships abroad - you may need to apply over a year in advance. However, you may decide that the best option for you is to strike while the iron is hot and secure yourself a job to begin straight after graduation.

Taking the Workplace Plunge

Finding the position which is right for you can be challenging in itself, and you might find it useful to take a look at further information pages compiled by The CV Centre UK, for example Temping Tips for Graduates and The Graduate Job-Seekers Guide. Once you have found employment it is time to make sure you are equipped to make the most of your new position.


You may well be relocating in order to take on your new job and it can be hard work finding a new place to live in a new location, particularly if you have been used to the support of the university housing office! It is worth considering whether you would prefer to live alone or to share a house with others. Bed-sits or studio apartments can be an economical way of living independently, but some graduates find that living in a shared house with like-minded people can smooth the transition from studentdom, by providing them with a new group of friends with which to share the experience of moving in to the workplace. Letting agents are likely to have rental accommodation to suit a range of budgets, while advertisements in local papers and magazines often list advertisements for flat shares. It can be a good idea to remain vigilant about your own safety when meeting potential flatmates and to take a friend along with you, or to at least let someone else know with whom you are meeting, when and where.

You might also find you can make your new life easier if you can find somewhere to live that doesn't involve a long commute to work. Commuting on packed trains and buses can be a draining experience - in terms of both time and money - and so living within walking distance of your workplace can be a huge advantage. If it is not possible to live within walking distance of your workplace, it is still worth considering walking part of the way to work, try walking to the station rather than catching the bus for example. This is usually not only a cheaper option but can make you feel better, not only through providing regular exercise but also by giving you time to clear your head on the way to work.

Managing Your Day

A new job usually involves taking onboard lots of new information and can be overwhelming. To combat this it can be a good idea to keep a notebook with you, and take notes as you are shown new aspects of your job. This should make sure you don't have to repeatedly ask the same questions to your colleagues and help you to keep on top of things. It can also be very useful to write a list at the beginning of each work-day to make sure that you are clear in your own mind as to the tasks which need to be achieved that day. In this way you should be able to prioritise your workload and stay in control. It is also usually a good idea to take the breaks to which you are entitled. Breaks can make you more productive and can mean that you produce higher quality work than if you were to work solidly for many hours. Drinking plenty of water throughout the day is also often a good way to stay on the ball at work.

Work/Life Balance

After the flexibility of student life it can be difficult to adjust to a nine to five (or longer!) day and it can be tempting among recent graduates to treat your new position as an extension of your social life at university - especially if you have a position with lots of other recent graduates. However, an employer is likely to be much less sympathetic if you stroll in late to a meeting than a lecturer would be if you were late for a seminar ... so it is probably wise to make sure you don't overdo your socialising too much during the week. But it is also usually a good idea to make sure that you do not get too swept up in a culture of overworking: try to find a balance between work and leisure which ensures you can work productively and yet allows you to continue leisure pursuits which interest you.

Enjoy The Challenge!

Your new career may well be slightly daunting at first, but it is also likely to be very rewarding, with a host of new skills to learn and an abundance of new people to work with - and socialise with - so take a deep breath and enjoy the ride.

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