From diplomas to deadlines, the leap from college to the real world

There comes a time in life when the days of late-night study sessions ending in a trip to Real Chili get traded in for the demands and responsibilities of a Real Job. I don’t think anyone is ever fully prepared to make this transition, but it is a necessary, positive change.

This spring, I stood in my cap and gown amongst classmates from Marquette University’s Class of 2016. As I reflected on the past four years, I couldn’t help but look toward the transition ahead.

On my first day as a public relations intern at Branigan Communications, I quickly learned the main difference between being a full-time student and full-time employee: the level of responsibility. When you’re no longer your own boss, the stakes become higher. The work you do no longer only impacts a grade-point average, but a client with expectations and goals riding on your performance.

Working in a busy agency setting like Branigan, it was a challenge finding the balance between managing client expectations and working on someone else’s schedule. In school I worked according to my own calendar. Now I’ve learned how to consistently deliver quality work, juggling several projects at a time, without missing a deadline.

In college, your work and effort only benefits your personal success. I learned quickly that in the Real World the work you do becomes part of something bigger. The implications reach further than your grades or class attendance. When you meet challenges that help your team achieve a larger goal, it just means more. 

One of the main attractions that drew me to the communications field was the collaborative nature of the work. I’m now on a team that is driven every day to do the best work possible. At Branigan, my co-workers motivate me because we share a common goal. Working together, we stop at nothing to achieve it.

That’s ultimately why my transition from the life of a college student to a full-time employee has been rewarding. Although I might miss my college life from time to time (and the seemingly unlimited access to Real Chili), I wouldn’t trade it for the professional and personal lessons I’ve learned at Branigan so far. Turns out, the Real World isn’t so bad after all.

— Maggie Thelen, assistant account executive