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Transitioning From College Student to Young Professional

Updated: Jun 24

The transition from college to a young professional can seem daunting as you adapt to a new schedule and find how you fit into your new role. I had the pleasure of discussing this matter with UBWA alumna and recent graduate, Katie Crum. Katie was the UBWA president for the 2019-2020 school year and now works as an industry marketer for Avient Corporation. In our discussion, she shared great insights about transitioning into full time work and the challenges that she has overcome in the process.

Challenges of Starting a Full Time Position

With new ventures comes new challenges. Whether it be joining a new company, moving to an unfamiliar place, or the overall shift to working full time, transitioning from a college student to a young professional can be taxing. Katie shared some of the difficulties she faced as she transitioned into her full-time role. She mentioned the clear challenges of starting work in a pandemic and went on to talk about the disconnect she felt from her coworkers, navigating new forms of communication, and the pace of her work. She also shared an important lesson about the struggles she faced in finding her new identity after graduation.

“I went from working two jobs, being involved in multiple organizations, and taking a full course load in college to living by myself in a new city, working alone, and limited social interaction,” Katie shared. “Like most of the recent grads, I think, I struggled with the isolation of graduating college, leaving my friends, and finding a new identity that wasn’t tied up in what I majored in or what organization I belonged to.” I don’t think this subject is discussed enough, that leaving college can frequently come with a bit of an “identity crisis” as you search to find new outlets for your interests and passions and leave behind a familiar routine.

Communicating Your Needs

Starting a new position can be intimidating. You might find yourself burnt out on endless responsibilities, or unfulfilled by the lack of work you have. No matter how you are feeling in your role, it is important to communicate with your supervisors and coworkers what you need. Katie reflected upon the anxiety she felt at the beginning of her work from the “lack of responsibility” she had in her role. However, she shared some advice on how she addressed this situation, stating, “as I have progressed in my roles, demonstrated my abilities, and advocated for what type of work I want to do, I have been met with substantial and meaningful assignments that allow me to add real value to what I do.” Although it might be difficult to speak up for yourself in a new role, it can help alleviate stress and make your work more enjoyable.

Finding Joy in a New Chapter

While starting work full time can have its challenges, it can also be a rewarding experience and exciting new time in your life. As with any transition, you have new opportunities to learn about yourself and lean into your interests. In the midst of this transition, Katie found time to adopt “two cats and an obscene number of houseplants.” She also mentioned that through this change, she found new ways to connect with friends. Finding these bits of happiness can make for an easier adjustment to life outside of college.

When I reached out to Katie to hear about what she has learned in her new role, she gave countless pieces of good advice to share with you all, but her closing statement really stuck with me, and I think it is important that it be shared directly in her words:

“As someone who loves to reminisce and give unsolicited life advice, I have so much more I could say about my time in UBWA and transition to working full-time, but I will leave you with this. Something I have been forced to learn over the past year is we are all inundated with the mindset that the moment something doesn’t work out in our lives we have to change it. Not to be confused with complacency; however, patience for yourself and your situation often allows you to gain perspective on what you care about most. So give yourself grace, buy a few houseplants, and try not to worry too much.”

Thank you to Katie Crum for her wonderful insight on this topic and thank you for reading this post! If you would like to learn more about the featured alumna in this post, please click on the Featured Alumnae button on the blog’s webpage. If you would like to further discuss the topic of transitioning into a full-time role, feel free to contact me at

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