I expect most engineering students have had at least some internship experience or a summer job. If you have, you’ve tasted a little bit of what life will be like after college. There’s more money, hopefully less stress, or maybe life in a new city. For me, transitioning into the workplace (permanently, barring future graduate school) changed my life in a few key areas.
Hopefully this will help as you figure out the next stage in life or what to expect in the workplace
If you haven’t had a job, here are three tips to help in the big transition.
1. Start having a more structured schedule
You will spend a lot of time at work. The feeling that comes when five o’clock rolls around is wonderful. It’s a huge weight off your shoulders not taking work home with you and not preparing for five tests at once. However, the long day at work can be difficult to deal with at first. I would suggest, starting while you’re still in school, that you set aside a full block in your day dedicated to working on campus. As a student, each day brought a new schedule. Some days I was up at 6 a.m. while others I could lay in bed until 9. Start bringing some consistency into your day by working for several hours straight, mimicking a real work day as best as you can.
2. Buy some nice clothes
Your professor may not mind when you wear gym clothes or a t-shirt from your high school club to class but it’s a good bet your future employer won’t be too happy about it. Consistently dressing well makes a great impression and your boss will notice. In order to save, pick up some nice business wear now, even if it’s second-hand. Wearing those nice clothes can get uncomfortable after eight long hours, especially the shoes, so get used to it by wearing them to class and around campus. It may cost to look nice but it also pays dividends.
3. Save your money and give it away
Yes, it sounds lame to save. I know there’s some fat purchases you’ve had your eye on. You’re just waiting for your first sweet engineering paycheck. Single, unmarried and making serious cash is a bad place to be if you have no financial discipline. Start saving money now, especially money made over internships. Personally, the best way I know how to practice self-discipline is to spend my money on other people. Buy your parents an extra nice birthday gift or take a friend out for lunch. Plan purchases carefully and try not to look at your bank account as totally liquid. It will be gone faster than you think.
Hopefully this will help as you figure out the next stage in life or what to expect in the workplace. If you have experienced working life, hopefully these help you process some of what you went through and prepare you to get a leg up next time.
The College of Engineering has a Career Advising Team through the Career Center that you can talk to in order to get advice on how to find jobs after graduation.