The transition from student to professional is tough; we’re not just navigating through a new company, but also a new phase of life. It’s been several months since I graduated from an Interactive Design program and started working as a web interface designer at a large company, so I consider myself still freshly familiar with this transition period. Here are the most important things I learned.

1. Teamwork Doesn’t Go Away

Remember the collective groan in class when a group project was announced? Groan no more, because, in the real world, working in teams never goes away.

And that’s a good thing: our coworkers are a valuable resource of knowledge and experience.

2. You Need to Keep Learning

Just because you graduated from college doesn’t mean you can stop learning about your industry.

Stay curious. Keep up with the changing technologies and be open to change.

3. Be Ready to Know Nothing

So you studied your field for four years, did a few internships, and now you landed your first job.

Congrats! You know nothing.

When I started my job, the systems my company uses were nothing like those I had experienced using in school. Your first few weeks will be a crash course in everything you never learned in school.

I’ve spent a lot of time on my own learning all about my company and reviewing their past projects in order to learn everything I need to know to succeed at my workplace. It took a lot of effort, but it was worth it.

4. Learn to Prioritize

Jobs don’t come with a syllabus of every assignment for the next six months. Tasks will pile up with competing deadlines, sometimes with last-minute projects added on.

Learn your priorities. In addition, eventually, you’ll need to learn to say "no" and manage the expectations of your bosses and colleagues.

5. It’s All for Real

We’re not working for good grades anymore. Our job performance pays rent. People rely on us.

Work hard, because it matters.

6. Don’t Forget the Fun

It’s an intense period transitioning from school to the professional world — we’re proving ourselves and working out our survival.

However, don’t forget to live a little.

Just like in college, when you needed a break from marathon study sessions, don’t let your personal life completely disappear.

Go to happy hours. Enjoy the weekends. Be young and fabulous!


Tina is a Web and UI designer as well as a video editor based in Vancouver BC. She received her Communication Design degree from Emily Carr University where she developed her conceptual thinking in art and design. Afterwards, she entered the Interactive Design Program in Capilano University where she learned most of her skills in rich media and web design. Her areas of focus are HTML, CSS, UI, illustration and video editing. Check out her work on her website and connect with her via LinkedIn.