Student Life to Full-Time Job:  A Step-by-Step Guide


Student Life to Full-Time Job: A Step-by-Step Guide

If the title of this particular blog post jumped out at you, you’re probably towards the end of your student life and maybe looking for – or have just started – your first “proper” full-time job (or you’re my mum. Hi mum!). Perhaps you are a little anxious about this new transition and unsure about what to expect? I can relate! I completed my bachelor studies in Graphic and Information Design in mid-2022 and began working at viesure as a junior designer just a few months later. In this post, I would like to share some of my learnings during my own switch from student to employee and five tips that might be helpful if you’re in a similar situation.


Please note that I’ve also just started my first full-time job and certainly don’t claim to have the answer to everything (it’s 42, by the way 😉). The below tips and pointers are from my own personal experience, and I hope you can relate to some of them.


1. Create some structure
Yes, yes, I know: For many people coming straight out of university, the idea of a day-to-day routine and the responsibilities of a nine to five job sound like the end of your youth and freedom (spoiler: they’re not). During your studies, you enjoy a lot more flexibility – you can take a guilt-free break and meet a friend for coffee or go out on a Wednesday night and sleep in the following morning. Happy days. And then, you get a full-time job and suddenly have to get out of bed, be somewhere at the same time every weekday and do a certain type of work for a specified amount of time.


My first tip, therefore, is to create some structure and the foundations of a daily routine – however slight – which can really go a long way to make the transition from student to employee easier and stress-free. For me, I focused on two minor changes: First, I try to make my mornings as hassle-free as possible by preparing my breakfast and outfit the night before, which means that I can keep any unnecessary stress to a minimum and sleep in a few minutes longer 😴. Secondly, when I plan any activities in my free time, I always try to keep at least two evenings each week free. Obviously, I love spending time with friends and family, but having some time to myself means I don’t get overwhelmed with other responsibilities and tasks I have outside of work. An evening alone – even if it’s just to catch up on your favorite show or do some chores around the house – can do wonders for your social battery and help when you’re feeling drained.

2. Come prepared, but ask questions
Before your first day at your new job, you are probably (understandably!) a little nervous. You’ve no idea what to expect, what the office culture is like or what you’ll actually be asked to do. At least this is what it was like for me! However, I was able to alleviate some of these initial worries by finding out as much as I could about viesure through its official website, blog posts and social media channels. During my first few weeks, I also spent a lot of time looking through our own internal wiki to learn more about the company’s history, values and past and current projects. It always helps when you already have a rough image in your head of what your new colleagues are talking about, and makes you feel a little more confident.


Still, I think a big difference you will notice when you switch from studying to full-time employment is about asking questions: At school or university, you have to learn things by heart, prepare for exams and teachers often expect you to have the answers to their questions ready. When you start your first full-time job, however, you are most likely a junior employee and nobody expects you to know everything. Quite the opposite in fact, as asking your colleagues questions – no matter if they’re related to professional practices or the office culture – tends to be viewed as a positive sign of curiosity and indicates a willingness to learn.


3. Get to know your colleagues
Ah, the dreaded first office Christmas party 😅. If, like me, you’re not the most naturally extroverted individual, you might struggle with the thought of having to talk to your new colleagues – particularly if many of them are older than you and already know each other. However, you’ll quickly find out there is (usually) no reason to be anxious about fitting in during company social events. At some point in their careers, your colleagues were also the “newbie” in the office and so it’s more than likely that they will try to include you in their conversations and to try to make you feel welcome.


Communication, however, is not a one-way street and it is also up to you to foster these connections. There is so much you can learn from your colleagues even when they are working in different sectors or professional areas. It’s always helpful and enlightening to inquire about their own career paths, opinions on current developments in your industry or simply about their day-to-day tasks. Watch how they act and communicate in meetings or how they handle their own workload to learn more about the workplace attitude and working life.

4. (Don’t) step out of your comfort zone
The number one tip you mostly find when you ask for help on handling unknown situations is to “step out of your comfort zone”. Of course, handling new experiences is important for your personal development but, perhaps, it would be better to rephrase this tired cliché a little; rather than stepping out of your comfort zone, try to expand it.


Let me elaborate. You should not have to endure uncomfortable and anxiety-inducing situations just because you think you have to leave your comfort zone all the time. Instead, try to make your working life less difficult by integrating these situations into it. Easier said than done (I know) but next time you find yourself in a position that is making you feel stressed or agitated, it’s important to put everything into perspective first. Ask yourself why a certain task or event is making you antsy – in the context of starting your first full-time job, it’s often because it’s a new situation and you don’t know what to expect. But once you realize that people are, in fact, aware that you’re young and new at the company, and that nobody expects you to get everything right the first time, you see that you will get more comfortable with these kinds of situations. It’s also important to remember that you were hired for a reason! So, believe in your own skills and expand your comfort zone step-by-step.


5. Peer review: talk about it
This might seem like a no-brainer, but I believe that it’s essential to figuring out your role as a full-time employee for the first time: Talk to your friends! Talk to them about your workplace and your colleagues, about your day-to-day tasks and your salary. And, just as importantly, ask about their experiences. These comparisons, however informal, will help to assure you that everything you’re experiencing is completely normal – or help you realize if something is a little off. I am lucky in that some of my best friends started their own first full-time jobs at the same time, so we had a lot of chats about our new circumstances that mutually helped to build our confidence. If you’re not in a similar situation with your own circle of friends, you can always reach out to people you went to school or university with and have a coffee with them – you’ll be surprised how receptive people are when it comes to sharing their experiences.


Of course, these discussions can sometimes feel a little weird – especially if some friends are complaining about their job whilst others bask in their workplace utopia. But receiving feedback from your peers is essential to breaking the stigma and silence surrounding workplace happiness and money matters that many of us know from our parents’ generation, and will ultimately result in more confidence and better working conditions for us all.


Final thoughts
Clearly, there’s a lot more to say about this complex topic during one of the most transitional periods of your life. But, in the end, it’s just about taking one step after the other and you’ll eventually find your own rhythm. And, whilst it can be a little daunting to give up some of the flexibility you may have known as a student, you will quickly come to appreciate the benefits of working life (no studying on the weekend! new friends! many exciting experiences! a fixed salary!).


My humble advice? Try to enjoy the process and make the best out of it for yourself.