How to Adjust “Normal” College Habits after Graduation

Leaving college behaviors behind can be one of the most difficult changes to make after graduation. After spending years frequently surrounded by your friends and peers, there can be a period of culture shock when you transition into a professional environment.

You don’t have to give up on being yourself when you begin your career, but you may have to adjust which behaviors you keep public and which you keep private.

Keep these tips in mind when you begin your first post-college job.


It’s your first week at your new job and your coworkers take you out to lunch to get to know the team. The waitress comes to the table, lists the drink specials and asks you what you’d like. What do you do?

Even if you aren’t the first person to order, basing your choice on what everyone else is doing isn’t the wisest move. Without knowing who is and is not comfortable with it, why take the risk?

If you’re in the middle of the workday, chances are that someone at your company would look down upon you drinking. If it’s an after-work function, like a happy hour with colleagues, having a drink is socially acceptable.

Don’t drink in excess with colleagues, even outside of the office. It may seem like blowing off some steam with work friends, but your behavior can get back to your boss. Being seen as a hard partier may damage your professional reputation.

Taking Selfies

Social media is not private. There are privacy settings and steps you can take to make your profiles less visible, but your online activity is usually not too hard to find.

Cleaning up your social media presence is a necessary step before you start looking for a job, but it’s something to keep in mind after you’re hired as well.

It’s easy to think you’re safe as long as your boss isn’t following you, but it’s not that simple. A colleague or mutual acquaintance could joke about your office selfies to your boss. It may not seem like a big deal to you, but posting to your social media accounts during work hours could get you into trouble.

Before posting something, ask yourself if you’d be embarrassed or have to explain if your boss saw it. If the answer is yes, it’s best to avoid it.

Being Silly with Friends

With all of the hours you spend in the office, some of your work friendships can turn into personal ones. Having colleagues that are also friends can be wonderful. They can brighten your mood and improve your morale.

Unfortunately, work friends can also be a distraction. Taking a few minutes to talk in the break room is fine, but make sure to put professionalism first at work.

Once you have a bunch of inside jokes and shared stories, it can be easy to fall into “friendship mode” during the work day. You may find yourself laughing with your friend during meetings or spending long periods of time talking about personal things at work.

Even with your friends, keep your behavior work-focused during work. Prove to your superiors that you are responsible and take your job seriously.

Dealing with Anger

In college, an angry outburst at a party or sporting event is nothing new. Spending years around people who can get into a shouting match one day and be friends the next can set up unreasonable expectations for how to deal with anger.

When situations arise at work that make you angry, be careful with how you handle it. Don’t let your emotions rule your actions.

Never write an email or confront a coworker when you’re angry. Wait until you’ve calmed down and can process everything from a logical standpoint.

Don’t feel like you have to win an argument. Work requires compromise. You may have to put your foot down at times, but it shouldn’t be done in anger.

Dealing with Confusion 

College classes are well-organized, with a syllabus so you know what to expect and when. There are always resources on hand to help guide you when you need it.

Things aren’t always as simple after graduation. Some employers may not have formal training programs. You could get thrown into a heavy workload right away with little explanation.

You don’t want to start off your new career looking like a deer in the headlights. Be proactive about learning what you need to know to do your job.

Asking questions can help, but don’t rely on your coworkers to explain every single thing. If you can find the information yourself, look it up first.

You could always check to make sure you are doing something the right way, but you will make a better impression when you don’t rely on help for every last thing.

There are a lot of negative stereotypes that portray Millennials as needy or lazy. Show your boss that though you are young, you are independent and can work well with a team.

By Erin Palmer