Are you graduating soon? That’s great news because it’s a time for big celebrations. While this achievement may indicate that one phase of your life is coming to an end, another adventure is just beginning. (After all, that’s why the ceremony is called “commencement”). Graduates who are new to the job market should be prepared for different employment challenges. Although transitioning from student to employee takes time, there are some steps you can take to excel in your first job and future career.

Connect with your new employer or company

If you have received a job letter (congratulations!), start preparing for the first day of the job right away. Create a list of any questions you have about the position, such as how they will evaluate your performance, where you can connect with coworkers, and whether they have initial training periods. Before you begin, contact the company’s human resource office (HR) or your new supervisor for more information on these concerns.

Strengthen your soft skills or interpersonal skills

Soft skills are competencies related to how you work and interact with others. Examples include communication, time management, teamwork, creativity, and adaptability.  

According to a recent CollegeEducation survey, half of working Americans said they used soft skills more than other skills types in their current jobs. In addition, three-quarters of employers surveyed by Cengage in 2019 said that listening skills and detail-oriented abilities were in high demand.

Soft skills, also known as “transferable skills,” will benefit you in your current and future jobs. As you begin or prepare for your first job, you should make an effort to practice these skills through research, internships, volunteer projects, and activities and tasks that involve communication and cooperative components. 

Ask for feedback and advice

As you become accustomed to your new position and workplace, you might have several questions and concerns. How do you maintain a good work-life balance? Is it necessary to obtain a professional certificate? How can you handle difficult situations and conversations with coworkers or colleagues?

Finding a forum or a sounding board for your concerns and complaints, along with sources of joy and encouragement, will help you succeed in your first job and throughout your professional career. 

Look through your existing support network of family and friends and find potential mentors in your field. You also have the option of joining professional groups and organizations, many of which offer discounts and special programming to students and young professionals.

Keep an eye out for unexpected opportunities

Remember that this is your first job after graduation, and it will most likely not be your last. Switching jobs is common in many industries. As you begin your professional life, avoid making assumptions or putting limitations on what you believe your path should be and what job titles you should hold.

Investigate opportunities to specialize, gain skills, and perform relevant work. Don’t be afraid to accept new challenges or try new things, particularly when you begin your first job. Taking on challenges can lead to unexpected — but intriguing — opportunities.

Accept the transition from college to work

You worked hard to graduate and get your first job out of college. Life is a series of changes. And your experience with this progression will help you navigate the options that come after it. 

Take the initiative to set yourself up for success so that you can get started right away. Keep in mind that you will have a lot of career opportunities and learning resources at your disposal.