How to Transition from College to Work

Melvin Tillman, Melvin Tillman, MA

Posted by: Melvin Tillman
Melvin Tillman, MA
267-428-2612

For many, college can be a wonderful time of self-exploration, connecting with others, and engaging in fun activities.  Regardless if you went to college for four years or more, transitioning from college to working full time can be a challenge.  Suddenly, you have to shift your entire way of living, which can lead to disappointment, disillusionment, and despair.   This article is going to help you develop behavioral strategies to mitigate those feelings.  Specifically, this article will explain how to transition from college to work.

Making the Most of Moving Back Home

There are many reasons why a person may need to move back home after college.  You were lucky enough to get a job right out of college, but you may still have student loans, car insurance, and living expenses that are too hefty at the moment.  Additionally, finding an apartment or house within your price range and preference can take some time.  Moving back home can remedy many of these issues.  Also, some people move home to help their parents physically or emotionally.  Regardless of your reasons, moving back home can be a challenge for some.

Perhaps the biggest hurdle ex-students face is their new living situation.  While looking for a job, many graduates have to move back home with their parents.  After years of autonomy, this can be quite the shock.  You may have had the expectation of never living with your parents again.  Now that you are an adult, you have your own way of living your life.  Unfortunately, this style of living has the potential to conflict with your parents’ home environment, which is more likely if they still treat you as a child and not an adult.  Some people are fortunate enough to have wonderful, accommodating parents; however, moving back home can also be vexing, exhausting, and challenging for others.

If living with your parents makes you uncomfortable, saving money for your own place is crucial.  Simply put, autonomy often requires economic freedom.  Therefore, take advantage of home cooked meals and low utilities by avoiding unnecessary spending.  Remind yourself of your goal of independent living, while matching your actions to meet that goal.  Additionally, recognize your job goals.  A person needs a certain salary to completely cover all of their life expenses.  What does that look like to you?  Do you want to live with roommates to offset some costs?  Are you willing to accept a low paying job for the experience?  All of these questions help inform the type of salary you’re comfortable with, and consequently, how long you may need to stay with your parents.  

Finally, remind yourself that your current living situation is temporary.  It’s easy for negative emotions to fester when we over exaggerate the length of a situation.  You’re not going to live forever with your parents, and you’re not going to be stuck feeling bad about it.

Join Social Activities

Some ex-students may be lucky enough to have their own place after graduation.  However, there is one challenge that nearly all graduates face: the loss of easy, social interactions.  College is a place where young, like-minded individuals can easily interact with each other.  Through classes, events, and dorms, making and hanging out with friends can be quite effortless in college.  After you graduate, however, you may find that it takes a lot of work to stay connected with friends, not to mention making new ones.  Due to distance and work commitments, a graduate’s social life tends to take a hit.  Fortunately, you can do something about this.

After college, you now have to be proactive with socialization.  Think about what you more of.  If you want to simply be around others, join classes at your local gym.  Yoga, Zumba, and kickboxing classes are pretty common in gyms.  They have the benefit of increasing your physical health, while also contributing to your social life.  Even if you don’t want to make friends in one of these classes, it can still be comforting to share the same space as others.  If you’re more interested in building your career, attend young professional groups and conferences.  Meanwhile, if you want to try something new, taking a course that teaches a skill can be rewarding, while also being social .  Whether it is a cooking, art, or an automotive class, you’ll consistently be around others.

Form Hobbies

Whether you have a job or in the midst of obtaining one, there’s a high chance that you’ll have new-found free time.  After all, once you’re done with work, you’re probably not taking anything home with you.  With a standard 9-5 job with an hour commute, you’ll still have approximately 6 hours of time to yourself.  To be clear, some people work more than 40 hours a week, and they are happy using their extra time to take on extra responsibilities at work.  For people not in that group, without the thought of upcoming assignments or readings to prepare for, some recent graduates can struggle on how to spend their free time.  This is why hobbies are so important.

Once again, life post-college requires you to be more active.  Concerning hobbies, take time to figure out what really piques your interest.  To facilitate this process, think back to what you did for fun during your school breaks.  Were you involved in sports?  Video games?  Writing?  Music?  If sports are up your alley, try signing up for intramurals near you.  If you’re struggling to figure what interests you, create an account on meetup.com.  MeetUp is a website that provides fun, group activities based on a short questionnaire.  For instance, you can learn that your local coffee shop is hosting a night of hip-hop performers.  Though Netflix can be fun, you’re likely to feel lethargic and dissatisfied if that’s your only activity.

Break Routine

Another challenge that some graduates face is the routine of a career.  There aren’t new classes, different professors, or month long breaks to disrupt routine.  There’s a good chance that you’ll have the same boss, at the same location, doing roughly the same task every day.  If you’re not careful, that monotony can lead to the disillusionment and disappointment mentioned earlier.  Therefore, it is so very important to break routine.

To break your routine, create a list of activities that you haven’t done in a while, or have been wanting to.  Also, make sure the items on the list are realistic and accessible.  Checking out the new restaurant down the street, creating that cool craft on Pinterest, or seeing that movie that you’ve been meaning to are all examples of activities that could break your routine.  After you have created your list, try to do one of the activities by the end of the week.  This will require effort; after all, humans are creatures of habit.  However, that same hab  it can make life boring and dreary.  Let that reminder motivate you to engage in a new activity.

Additionally, you can alter your work environment to make it even more stimulating.  Taking on more tasks, becoming more involved, and creating projects can all add more life to your career.  Another way to facilitate this is to reflect on what you would want improved at your job, and being the one to create that change.  Work can have a certain routine to it, at the same time, it doesn’t have to be monotonous or boring.


Transitioning from college to work can be a challenge for many, recent graduates.    After all, you did just spend at least four years growing accustomed to a certain lifestyle.  Now that you are in a career, you have to adjust that way of living.  There’s still hope with making this shift, however.  By making proactive changes in your life, you can create a social, exciting, and fulfilling life.  Though college was a lot of fun, it doesn’t have to end once you graduate.