Tips from My Transition from College Student to Professional

  • By Josh Perera
  • 09 Sep, 2015

I was so proud, so happy, but not nearly as proud as my mom was to see her baby boy, the one who couldn’t sit still, graduate from college. The black cap and gown with my honors chord symbolized years of hard work, obstacles overcome and sacrifices made. Now the day had come where I could say, “Momma, mission accomplished!” Time to turn in my boardshorts and flip-flops for a suit and tie.  

In that moment, I truly believed my education was complete and the only thing left to do was to set the world on fire. Little did I know then how much my world would change and how much the expectations of a full-time professional varied from those of a student. That transition was tough – really tough. However, in every challenge lies an opportunity. Through it all there are three valuable lessons I’ve learned about the difference in how we excel as students compared to how we excel as professionals that should be considered during your college experience.


1)         We stop acting like islands

In school, our success is based on our individual performance. How we interact with our peers, professors or counselors have little bearing on our grades. As someone who has a tendency of tackling things individually, I blossomed in this role. In business, on the other hand, our performance is largely tied to those around us, and the success of our projects and initiatives depends on the efforts of everyone who participates. As such, lesson number one is that in the workforce we are no longer individuals competing against one another for the highest score. Instead, we are each members of a team, and as such, we need to help that team succeed. Therefore, get a head start and get involved in team environments whether it be a club, or intramural sports team.

2)         Appreciate the importance of the little things

Pick up any relationship advice book, and you’re sure to find emphasis on the value of the small stuff: roses, hand-written letters, moments that truly show how you feel. Given that business is a product of relationships, we would be wise to follow the same advice and emphasize the small things with the stakeholders of our professional lives. Being consistently responsive, empathetic, loyal and trustworthy with clients and other professional contacts, will go a long way in nurturing those relationships.

3)         We still have so much to learn

The final – and perhaps most important – lesson is to accept that our education really starts the moment we enter the workforce. If you’re young and stubborn like me, then you may be more likely to run into walls than to ask for advice from the onset (see lesson #1). It took many challenges to learn to the value of seeking help from others. Finding a mentor is crucial. However, we can’t deny the value of the greatest teacher of all: life. We must learn from our trials and tribulations so we can continue to grow as professionals, and more importantly, as human beings.  


We are the drivers of our own success and we hold the keys to the future. Perhaps when I accepted my diploma, I didn’t realize how much I didn’t know, but I’m grateful for the opportunity to learn these valuable lessons. I only wish I didn’t have so many bumps on my forehead from all the walls I ran into, hopefully with these tips, you might have might have less than I.

By Josh Perera 09 Sep, 2015

I was so proud, so happy, but not nearly as proud as my mom was to see her baby boy, the one who couldn’t sit still, graduate from college. The black cap and gown with my honors chord symbolized years of hard work, obstacles overcome and sacrifices made. Now the day had come where I could say, “Momma, mission accomplished!” Time to turn in my boardshorts and flip-flops for a suit and tie.  

In that moment, I truly believed my education was complete and the only thing left to do was to set the world on fire. Little did I know then how much my world would change and how much the expectations of a full-time professional varied from those of a student. That transition was tough – really tough. However, in every challenge lies an opportunity. Through it all there are three valuable lessons I’ve learned about the difference in how we excel as students compared to how we excel as professionals that should be considered during your college experience.


1)         We stop acting like islands

In school, our success is based on our individual performance. How we interact with our peers, professors or counselors have little bearing on our grades. As someone who has a tendency of tackling things individually, I blossomed in this role. In business, on the other hand, our performance is largely tied to those around us, and the success of our projects and initiatives depends on the efforts of everyone who participates. As such, lesson number one is that in the workforce we are no longer individuals competing against one another for the highest score. Instead, we are each members of a team, and as such, we need to help that team succeed. Therefore, get a head start and get involved in team environments whether it be a club, or intramural sports team.

2)         Appreciate the importance of the little things

Pick up any relationship advice book, and you’re sure to find emphasis on the value of the small stuff: roses, hand-written letters, moments that truly show how you feel. Given that business is a product of relationships, we would be wise to follow the same advice and emphasize the small things with the stakeholders of our professional lives. Being consistently responsive, empathetic, loyal and trustworthy with clients and other professional contacts, will go a long way in nurturing those relationships.

3)         We still have so much to learn

The final – and perhaps most important – lesson is to accept that our education really starts the moment we enter the workforce. If you’re young and stubborn like me, then you may be more likely to run into walls than to ask for advice from the onset (see lesson #1). It took many challenges to learn to the value of seeking help from others. Finding a mentor is crucial. However, we can’t deny the value of the greatest teacher of all: life. We must learn from our trials and tribulations so we can continue to grow as professionals, and more importantly, as human beings.  


We are the drivers of our own success and we hold the keys to the future. Perhaps when I accepted my diploma, I didn’t realize how much I didn’t know, but I’m grateful for the opportunity to learn these valuable lessons. I only wish I didn’t have so many bumps on my forehead from all the walls I ran into, hopefully with these tips, you might have might have less than I.

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