Author Offers Top 5 Tips for College Grads Entering the Working World

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Andy Masters, author of "Life After College: What to Expect and How to Succeed in Your Career," offers advice for recent college graduates to get their career off to a great start and avoid culture shock.

Euphoria from cap-and-gown celebrations will soon turn to real world culture shock for many college graduates this year. Certainly, landing a job is concern number one, but how will these young professionals fare once they begin their career? Are they actually prepared for what lies ahead?

Andy Masters, author of the newly released book, "Life After College: What to Expect and How to Succeed in Your Career," offers several key pieces of advice for college graduates to get their career off to a great start:

1) Build a Relationship With Your Boss

Like it or not, no single individual has a greater impact on your career future than your direct supervisor. So, how do you get on their good side from the start? Managers want to feel that you truly care, and that you are “in it with them” as a team. Bring your boss solutions, not problems. When a problem arises, take initiative to consider what alternatives are available. Don’t just throw the problem on their desk and have them figure it out. Ask your boss for advice on what you or the company could do better. Offer to stay late and help on projects, even if they might not be your direct responsibility. While these things may sound obvious, many Americans rush out the door at 4:59 without even saying “Goodnight.”

2) Display Professionalism and Maturity

Unfortunately, the immature stereotype of young professionals does present a barrier to advancement and job security. Often, how you respond to adversity in a situation can define your professional maturity. A young professional views a mistake as a catastrophe. A mature professional considers it a bump in the road. A young professional is quick to assert blame at others. A mature professional asks how they can work better together in the future. Try to maintain your composure at all times, and don’t let your emotions get the best of you. There will always be a difference of opinion on how best to do things in an organization, but they shouldn’t escalate to confrontation. And don’t forget, professionalism is also judged in written communication, such as memos, reports, and especially e-mails.

3) Find a Mentor Within the Company/Industry

Take advice from someone who has succeeded, and he or shee will help you succeed. Makes sense, doesn’t it? Some companies sponsor structured mentor programs, as do many professional organizations. Be sure to investigate these options. Otherwise, you will have to rely on a more informal method of finding a mentor. You might believe these people are too busy, or too important to talk to you. However most times, that is not the case. Deep down, almost everyone relishes having someone look up to him or her. Most people want to share their secrets and their path to success with someone who really wants to listen. Most likely, they also value the company and understand they are contributing to its future success by helping to develop other young leaders. Besides, they probably had a mentor, too.

4) Undertake a Strategic Development Plan

It’s never too early to start thinking about where your current job will take you. Understand typical advancement paths from your position, and what training and development can lead you into advancement. Many college graduates are tired of learning. However, the most successful people don’t stop learning at age 22. Continue to invest in yourself and pursue opportunities to learn from colleagues, books, seminars, and professional organizations. Try to identify your niche or area of specialization within a company or industry that will be in demand in the future. Where do you want to be in 2 years, or 5 years? Understand that you will have to take initiative in developing your own strategic game plan, and holding yourself accountable to it.

5) Avoid Dangerous Pitfalls

You may think the employee binder you receive your first day is just a pile of boring policies no one reads, but take heed. There is pressure to get ahead, pressure to impress the boss, and pressure to “fit-in,” all of which threaten to compromise ethical judgment. There could be temptations to mislead a customer to get one more sale for the month, or hide a mistake from your manager to avoid embarrassment. Abuse of the Internet and personal emails is another common trap for young professionals. Be careful, big brother is watching.

Further, there are over 15,000 sexual harassment cases filed every year in this country. Often, the intent may not necessarily be malicious, but rather the offender doesn’t realize the professional difference between what is appropriate in the workplace vs. a “night out at the clubs” or a fraternity party. It is imperative to understand the rules of the game, and abide by those rules, so you don’t cause irreparable damage to your career from the start.

About the Author

Andy Masters is a nationally recognized speaker from St. Louis, and is author of the newly released book, "Life After College: What to Expect and How to Succeed in Your Career." Andy earned an M.A.-Human Resources Development and M.A.-Marketing from Webster University. Visit for more information on the book, seminars, and additional resources.

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