Graduating from college is supposed to be an exciting time, where you should feel a sense of accomplishment for having completed two, four, or more years of school. But most college graduates are also extremely anxious about the unknown future that lies ahead. What will it be like to have a “real” professional job? What if no one hires me? What if I find out I can’t stand the work?
These concerns are perfectly legitimate for recent grads. If you’ve just graduated with a health-related degree and are pursuing a career in the health industry, there’s a few things you should think about to help you enjoy the transition from college to health career.
Being a full-time worker requires an entirely different mindset from being a full-time student. As a student, your professors assigned you homework, tested you on specific information, and you basically did what you were told. Now, no one is telling you what jobs to apply for, or what employer to work for. You may have gotten all “A’s” in school, but what is the equivalent of an “A” career choice?
In order to answer this question, you need to have a plan. Perhaps you have already set long-term goals for yourself (such as you want to become a head surgeon) or short-term goals (such as you want to gain experience in the emergency medical field). Most likely, your goals will change. You’ll be meeting new people and enjoying new experiences that you never could have imagined without actually being there. Nevertheless, planning a career path is important for making the transition from college into the health industry as you take your first steps.
For one thing, employers will ask you about your goals at your interview. Being able to answer this question with specific details will show that you’re passionate about your career. Afterwards, when you get hired for a job, you can look back at your goals and see that you’ve taken an important step in your career. You’ll have confidence that you’re headed in the right direction, and not flailing aimlessly for that “A” grade.
It’s possible that you’ll find yourself in a job that you really don’t like at all. At first, this realization can be terrifying. You’ve spent the last several years of your life looking forward to being an x-ray technician or an oncology researcher, and now it makes you miserable to imagine yourself in this same job for the rest of your working life.
Consider this: Your first job doesn’t have to be your dream job. It can be a stepping stone to another completely different line of work in the health industry. No matter how much you dislike your new job, it will provide you with experience – and a sense of caution – when you go on to make your next career move.
If you want to make the most of your first healthcare job after college, one of the best things you can do is keep learning. Meet new people, establish networks, build relationships, and soak up everything you can about your work. Improve your skills, build up your résumé, and prepare yourself for your next transition to a better job, or your next promotion. It’s up to you to find the things that make your job fulfilling, because no one is going to give you any more “A’s.”