Congratulations graduate. You have completed almost two decades of education. With graduation done it might be scary or overwhelming to think about the next chapter in your life. Although daunting, professional life is definitely rewarding and is rife with amazing opportunities for growth. To make the transition a little easier, here are some key tips to remember before entering the workforce.

1. Everything you think you know, you don't
You have graduated from college so you must know everything you need to know right? Wrong! The fact is, you still have a lot of learning left to do, we all do. Take everything that people want to tell you and listen to them and follow what they are saying. You can put your spin on it and make it your own but learn from those who know, and they will learn from you. Be humble and willing to learn.

2. Don't take everything personally
Everybody is going to experience having a bad boss day. The day when your boss may yell at you and tell you that you are doing everything wrong. Take what they are saying and weed out the important parts. Take the tasks they are asking you to do and ROCK THEM! But then take all the negativity and throw it out the window because you don't need it.

3. Just because you are getting paid does not mean you need to spend it all
Remember when grandma would hand you a $5 bill for your birthday and say "Don't spend it all in one place"? Well, grandma was right! Most of you just graduating will need to find your right place, the right job, the right boss and maybe even the right city. This means that your first job will probably not be your last and odds are, you will have a time when you lose a paycheck or two. Having something in saving can be a lifesaver. Additionally, make sure that you are setting aside a certain amount - whether through employer 401ks or other options, for retirement and investing early. Starting early will help you keep ahead for retirement. The more you save now, the more you can enjoy retirement.

4. Attitude is everything
Never go into a new job, or anywhere, with a bad attitude. Keep a smile on your face, remember your manners, and you will be surprised at how far you will go!

5. Always leave them wanting more
When you do resign from a job, and you likely will, do not put in your notice and then slack on what you have been doing. Keep doing a great job and doing your best until the last time you clock out. This way, when you need a reference, a job or just some help, those people you worked with or for will be there for you. Always strive to be the most valuable player and that will take you far in your career. Your reputation follows you.

6. Respect
Treat everybody with respect. I don't care if it is the cleaning person who comes in after hours or if it is the CEO, treat everybody with respect because everybody will have a hand in your career and your future. Remember, that cleaning person takes out your trash and you can learn a lot about someone by their trash.

7. Don't quit just because you can
When you are offered a new opportunity, do not just go running for it. Take time to think about it, consider your options and decide if it is worth the transition. After all, the grass is not always greener on the other side; you may take something and decide that you want your old life back.

8. Remember where you came from
When you do make it to the top, and if you believe in yourself you will, always remember this day. The day you left school, left home and became an adult. Now you need to keep a hold of that feeling so when the next young kid fresh out of college comes in you will be there to guide them and help them along the way.

9. Make a plan
Today is the day that you begin your journey; do you know where you want your trip to take you? Make sure that you know where you want to be in 1 year, five years even ten years. Can you see it? Good. Now do it. Come up with a plan that will ensure your success and bring you closer to your long-term goals. Having a plan gives you something to aim for but always maintain some flexibility as life sometimes gives you an opportunity you shouldn't dismiss.

10. Family first
No matter how successful you are in your new career, there is nothing better than the love of your family. Whether that family is your spouse and maybe even kids or your parents and siblings, have someone to share your success, your failures, and your dreams. After all, it is not about how much money you make, but how you make your memories.

11. Always customize your cover letter
This may sound trite or redundant, but it is incredibly important as you enter the workforce and apply for employment. Employers and recruiters are easily able to stop generic cover letters so try to infuse some sense of personality and personalization when writing cover letters to differentiate yourself and stand out from the crowd.

12. Stay active on LinkedIn
While other social media platforms exist, there is nothing like LinkedIn when it comes to employment and networking opportunities. As you enter the workforce, ensure that your LinkedIn profile is current and relevant. There is an abundance of opportunities on there, so try to find and connect with others in your field and seek new connections every day.

13. Build relationships when possible
When entering the workforce, it is incredibly important to build and sustain professional relationships when possible. It might be tempting to write people off or to put in less effort from time to time, but resist that urge. Your relationships with other people will speak volumes to current and future employers, and will also demonstrate your ability to build strong networks. The more energy you put into building your network, the more opportunities will come your way as you get older. So the message is don't blow off that networking event after work. Go and get involved in that organization your future can depend on it.

14. Define your version of success
Success will mean something different to everyone; there is not a one-size-fits-all version. Working out what success means to you is far more worthwhile than chasing after some cookie cutter definition that does not fit. Define success in your terms, and work towards those goals. Don't let society define what you should have and what you should want out of life.

Published on: May 17, 2017
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