College Graduates Workforce

8 Things Graduates Should Know Before Joining The Workforce


The following career advice is what I believe to be the top eight things graduates should know before joining the workforce.

I am sure there are additional tips you can bring into the workforce but these are a great start to ensure you begin on the right foot.

1. Time Management

Time is finite. Once it is gone you cannot take it back. Once a deadline is missed there is no turning back. If you missed an assignment, you risk a lower grade. But in the working world it can mean losing a job project and the company having to incur financial losses. Learn time management skills and you end up being more productive, effective, and efficient.

2. Do More, Talk Less

It’s far too easy to be convinced by people who say you can talk to impress people. And I do not deny that, but eventually your work has to be the proof that you are a good worker and you are dependable. You need to decide if you will do more and talk less or do less and talk more.

3. Being Present

Being present means two things to me. Firstly, it means be on time every time. This ranges from a small internal meeting to meeting your deadlines. It means being there when you are needed. Golden opportunities present themselves when you are present. Secondly, being present means focusing on what is the work that needs to be completed. It also means being mindful and fully aware of your surroundings.

4. Give Your Work A Routine

Develop some form of routine and be disciplined to stick to that routine. This is related to time management but goes beyond the time management that you do in the office. Have a routine for your life. Give yourself time – block off time for yourself to read or even do the chores like laundry, etc. Start to be more organized than when you were in college. Stick to this career advice even though it does not relate to career building. You will soon see the wisdom of it.

5. Be Nice

Learn to be authentic and avoid politics. Of course, sometimes it is tough not to get involved at all. But you can learn to avoid it and be real. Be authentic to your values. These are your anchors that hold you when people change and agendas change. Be nice to people regardless of rank and designation. Smile often. Say your “please” and “thank you.”

6. Compete With Yourself

Compete with no one else. Of course, no matter what is said and done, you will always be peeping at the next guy to see how he is doing in his career.

Sure, peep.

But don’t be overly affected by competition that you forget to look at yourself. Be the best you can be in this long cross country marathon, it is filled with detours and stops. When you focus too much on your competitors you may get lost. It’s one of those graduate career advice you need to experience to know what this truly means.

7. Create, Not Just Discover

Life is as much about creating as it is discovering. I hear far too often fresh graduates saying, “I need to discover myself.” But is life all about discovering yourself? It is and it is also not. Life is as much as creating the you, you want to be as it is in discovering the you that you are.

The truth is somewhere in between. So, when you get a job that is less than satisfactory for you, use it as a pedagogue to discover yourself. More importantly, use it to give you hints at creating the self you want to be.

8. Fun Is In Learning

There is a lot of fun in learning. If you understand being present in my earlier advice, then you will know work life presents so much you can learn and be paid for it. Learn to love what you do and learn to love learning. Because the chance to do what you love maybe far and in between. When you find fun in learning then you will be constantly improving yourself. Learn to love books and all sorts of books. There is no need to stick to books in your own industry.

These are the eight things I consider solid career advice for any graduate. A new phase of life has just begun. It’s a long road of work from now on. There is no need to take the whole in one breadth. Take time and enjoy life while honing your skills as you move along.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Yun Siang Long

Yun Siang Long, or Long as he is popularly known, spent 16 years in three multinational ad agencies where he also trained people in areas of career management.


    • MarilynV, I would make two points for “mature” seniors (adults returning to get/complete a degree).

      1. Do not mistake online activity for effective job searching. Most of the jobs aren’t there. You have to find real people and start real conversations with them, whether it’s through an informational interview, a networking event, a career fair, or some other approach. This is how you get contacts that will connect you to the available jobs.

      2. You must make a case to potential employers for what you can do for them. This means that you must understand that specific company and what it needs. That requires real research and making connections with real people. The person who hires you doesn’t really care about what your goals are; they want to know what value you bring to the company.

      These points apply equally to young college seniors as well, but may be particularly difficult for mature students to implement.


  1. I really appreciate you taking the time to write this piece! You covered my philosophy of work and life. I share these same ideas with my advisees. I also convey these same ideas with my daughter who will be graduating from college soon. Now, I will share these ideas that you so succinctly wrote with my students.

  2. Long, that’s a great list of tips, and should be required reading for all college seniors. I believe that a lot of these young people simply have never been told things like this, and they would be so much happier in their work if they could understand and act on these tips.

    Alfred Poor

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