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7 Realities of Transitioning From Intern to Full-Time

transitioning from intern to full time employee
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Going from student to professional can be a rocky transition. Not only because you have to adjust to consistently being awake between the hours of 8 and 5, but also just because being the newbie at work is never an easy task.

This task only becomes more difficult if your full-time offer is from the place where you did your internship. While earning a full-time position was probably your ultimate goal as an intern, it’s tough to navigate how to ease into the working world while also simultaneously trying to prove to the people who believed in you and hired you that you are worth their support. Here are just a few of the reality checks you’ll face when your job title changes from lowly intern to a salary-earning full-timer.

1. Started From the Bottom, Now You’re….Still at the Bottom

Yes, you got the job (and congrats, by the way), but unfortunately, the fight isn’t over yet. Getting hired doesn’t mean you automatically become a member of the inner circle; just like everyone else before you, you will still have to pay your dues. Though you’re technically taking a (tiny) step up from intern, you are now the inexperienced, straight-out-of-college, new hire — which honestly isn’t much better.

No one will begin to take you seriously until you give them a reason to, and you will likely find yourself still doing all of the jobs that no one else wants to do. Just keep in mind that this is only temporary. You are officially on the bottom rung of your career ladder, which means that the only way to go is up!

2. Your Job Description Changes

This is quite possibly the most awkward part of transitioning from an intern to a full-time employee. If you already have a routine established as an intern, it can be difficult to know how exactly to take on your new responsibilities (and to shed some of your old ones). The best way to handle this is to sit down with your boss and directly define what your job description entails now that you’ve graduated to a more permanent position in the company.

3. Your Wardrobe Probably Sucks

One of the best parts about college is the fact that you can literally show up to class in your pajama pants if you just simply don’t feel like getting dressed that day, free of judgment. Showering may be optional when you’re an undergrad, but this is no longer the case once you join the working world. It’s time to put on your big girl pants (literally) and show the world who’s boss.

If you find, like me, that your closet is a bit heavy with the casual attire and lacking in the professional department, that’s okay. It will be a long process before you’re able to completely replace all of your Nike shorts and sweatshirts with dark jeans (or slacks) and blazers, but you’ll get there eventually.

4. Work-life Balance is no Joke

Since you’re allowed to control your own schedule in college, you can opt for only morning/afternoon classes, or even arrange it so you only have class two or three days per week. Because of your flexibility, partying until 2 a.m. on a Tuesday with your best friends is easy in college, and you probably feel like that’s something that will never change.

On the contrary — not only will consistently waking up early and working eight hours (or more) every single day come as a shock to your system, but your social life as well. Being an adult is seriously hard sometimes, and figuring out how and when to squeeze in time with your family and friends when all you feel like doing is watching Netflix and drinking wine in your (very limited) free time is just the tip of the iceberg.

5. Mo’ Money, Mo’ Problems

When I was still an intern, the thought of finally getting put on a salary was like the light at the end of the tunnel that would magically make all of my problems go away. While it definitely helps, an entry-level salary can still only stretch so far.

For me, graduating college also came with a move to a more expensive city, as well as taking on new bills and finally becoming completely independent from my parents. Take all of this into account before you start planning a trip to the Bahamas with your new cash flow.

6. It May Take the Office a While to Catch Up

Since you were introduced to everyone as an intern initially, it may take people around the office a while to start treating you like you’re not temporary anymore. Don’t let this offend you — most companies will see hundreds of interns cycle through over the years. It simply takes time to become a part of your work family, and you’ll be surprised by the new relationships you begin to form once you’re in the office all day, every day.

7. You Won’t Become a Superstar Overnight

As much as you may want to dive in headfirst and start chipping away at your five-year plan, you will have to be patient. It’s easy to look around at your co-workers who seem to do their jobs with ease and think that you will never be able to catch up to their level of expertise, but experience is one of those things that literally just comes with time.

In the beginning, just put your head down and get shit done. Focus on proving to yourself, your boss, and your co-workers that you deserve this opportunity and show them why they made the right decision by keeping you around.

Last modified on November 9th, 2016

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