12+ Super Helpful Tips For Starting a New Job After Grad School

Written by Grad School Center Team We are a passionate team of experienced educators and advisors at, dedicated to guiding students through their graduate education journey. Our experts, with advanced degrees across various disciplines, offer personalized advice, up-to-date program information, and practical insights into application processes.

Reviewed by David Krug David Krug is a seasoned expert with 20 years in educational technology (EdTech). His career spans the pivotal years of technology integration in education, where he has played a key role in advancing student-centric learning solutions. David's expertise lies in marrying technological innovation with pedagogical effectiveness, making him a valuable asset in transforming educational experiences. As an advisor for enrollment startups, David provides strategic guidance, helping these companies navigate the complexities of the education sector. His insights are crucial in developing impactful and sustainable enrollment strategies.

Updated: October 15, 2023, Reading time: 21 minutes

New Job after Grad School - featured image

If you’re starting a new job with your newly minted graduate degree, you’re likely on the right track of your dream career advancement path! However, even with your graduate degree combined with your extensive work experience, you’re probably experiencing a mix of emotions – anxiety, anticipation, and excitement – and it’s quite normal. You’re experiencing a pivotal transition in your life, after all. 

Fortunately, you can prepare for success in your new job, including getting along well with your new workmates and meeting performance targets. Here are effective tips that will get you started on the right track.

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Before Starting Your New Job

Before Starting Your New Job - Image

1. Research Your New Company

Of course, you already have reliable and relevant information about the company you will be working for in the near future. Your previous research is probably part of the reason you shortlisted the company in your employment prospects and the reason you were hired! You believed that you were an excellent fit not just for the job but for the company, too, and the company saw it. 

You must dive deeper, so to speak because you will be part of it soon. Your research must result in a better understanding of the company’s history, culture, and values as well as the industry it belongs in. You will then be better able to align yourself with the organization’s goals and integrate into its culture, as well as gain an appreciation of your role in a broader context (i.e., industry). 

A few steps you can do include: 

This way, you know what you’re getting into and, thus, you’re better able to prepare for your new job.

2. Plan for the Logistics of Your New Workplace

While you may know the company’s address, you may not know where your specific office is, who you will be reporting to on your first day of work, and what the procedures are for entry into the premises, if any. Even if you come 30 minutes early, you may still be late because you ran around like a headless chicken! 

You can avoid it by keeping these tips in mind. 

If the company has an orientation and training process for new hires, you must attend the sessions, too! You will not only gain more information about the company policies and procedures, culture and values but you will meet your future workmates. You must pay attention to the onboarding process, too, which can include the completion of required training programs or participation in a mentorship program.

3. Review Your Job Description

You must first review your employment contract or offer letter, which contains your compensation and benefits, among other terms and conditions of employment. Ask for clarifications so you have information for future reference. 

Then, you should familiarize yourself with your job description and its roles and responsibilities. Your detailed understanding must be combined with realistic expectations of your roles and responsibilities within your future team. 

Your best starting point is to ask relevant questions like: 

You must ask for a copy of your current job description so that you can compare the roles and responsibilities detailed in it with your employment contract (i.e., commensurate compensation and benefits).

You must clarify ambiguities, too, and use the job description for future reference, such as when making comparisons with your actual roles and responsibilities. You should also look at your job description as a professional development tool, particularly in identifying areas for knowledge and skills development.

4. Start Networking Activities

According to Zippia’s networking statistics, up to 70% of employees were hired because of their networking activities, and 85% of jobs are filled because of connections. Indeed, the importance of a supportive and extensive network cannot be overemphasized! These aspects are just as true when you’re starting a new job after earning your graduate degree. 

But you must be deliberate when establishing a new network in your new job as it will have a great impact on your personal and professional success. Here are effective tips to go about it and achieve success in networking. 

Your LinkedIn profile must also be updated to include your new employment, as well as your most recent achievements, skills, and experiences. You will find it easier to add more people to your online network by hooking up with current and former employees of the company you will be working in.

When establishing your network in preparation for your new job, you must offer value. Keep in mind that networking is a two-way street, meaning you should offer support, knowledge, and assistance to strengthen your new connections. 

5. Update Your Knowledge and Skills

Your newly minted graduate degree is among the reasons why you were hired. But you will likely find that your new job will require the acquisition of new knowledge and skills that graduate school didn’t include in its curriculum. 

There’s also the fact that even the best employees must broaden their knowledge and skills in many areas because of technological advancements (e.g., AI and automation), among other reasons. Indeed, knowledge and skills upgrades are a must to keep fresh and focused, as well as to keep moving forward in your career! 

But how can you engage in knowledge and skills updates to ensure that these are aligned with your new job? Keep these tips in mind to achieve excellent results. 

Once you know the areas for improvement, you can engage in knowledge and skills development in a wide range of ways. You can engage in their learning opportunities before and during your employment, a form of continuing professional development. 

Don’t forget to make an honest evaluation of your soft skills, too! Your hard skills have their merits, of course, but your soft skills reinforce your value not just as a productive employee but also as a person.

6. Set Realistic Expectations

In all your preparation for your new job after graduate school, you must set realistic expectations! You should remember that there’s always a learning curve whenever you’re into something new, even when you possess outstanding knowledge and skills that contributed to your advancement in the first place.

While you should set the bar high for yourself, you must also understand that making mistakes is acceptable when you’re learning the ropes. Instead of being too hard on yourself, you should view your initial mistakes as learning opportunities. Just be careful about making the same mistakes twice!

During Your First Weeks in Your New Job

During Your First Weeks in Your New Job - Image

1. Dress Appropriately

Even before your first day in your new job, you must ask about the specifics of the dress code! Even with more casual dress codes at work, you must be aware of the company’s dress code and follow it. You want to make a positive impression among your fellow employees and managers, as well as fit into the corporate culture. Indeed, think of the dress code as part of the corporate culture and a way to show your pride in being part of the company. 

Here are tips to dress appropriately for your new job. 

Following the dress code also means being mindful of the occasion! You must take into account the dress code of special meetings and events, such as client presentations and office parties when choosing your outfit of the day. Your attire must also take into account the weather conditions for obvious reasons. 

2. Learn and Adopt the Company Culture

The term “corporate culture” points to the set of values, beliefs, and behaviors that determine the interactions between employees and management, their collective performance, and their dealings with third parties.

In many cases, corporate culture isn’t expressly defined, although its basics can be outlined in corporate handbooks and the like. The accumulation of personal and professional traits among employees that the company hires also contributes to the organic development of corporate culture over time. 

As a result, company culture encompasses its dress code, employee compensation and benefits, hiring and training decisions, career advancement and turnover, and client dealings and satisfaction, among other aspects of its operations. The unwritten norms and rules of the workplace are also part and parcel of corporate culture. 

With that said, here are steps that you can take to learn the company culture and achieve a sense of community with your new teammates. 

Be sure to seek constructive feedback from your fellow employees and higher-ups, too, regarding your integration into the corporate culture. You should be open-minded when learning the culture, as well as strike a balance between maintaining your sense of individuality and becoming assimilated.

3. Build and Maintain Relationships

People move policies, processes, and procedures! It then makes sense to build and maintain relationships with the people in your new post-graduate job – therein lies potential and power waiting to be harnessed. Building and maintaining new relationships obviously demands soft skills, particularly interpersonal skills combined with charm. 

But don’t despair if your extensive academic training didn’t result in a charming personality either! You can keep these effective tips in mind when building and maintaining relationships in your new post-graduate job. 

Most importantly, adopt an attitude of gratitude, be respectful and courteous toward others regardless of their position in the corporate hierarchy, and be a positive person, particularly during challenging times.

4. Seek Mentorship

According to the CNBC/SurveyMonkey Workplace Happiness Survey, mentorship has a huge impact on a worker’s job-related happiness and career! Workers with mentors are more likely to assert that they are well-paid and feel valued for their contributions to the organization.

These benefits aren’t surprising, considering that mentors provide valuable guidance in getting ahead in your career, maximizing available resources, and accessing untapped resources to your advantage. 

The bottom line: You must seek a mentor or participate in a mentorship program if the company offers it to its employees! Like all the tips discussed here, you must be deliberate about the decisions and actions you make in relation to seeking mentorship. 

You must also practice your communication skills, particularly active listening skills (e.g., carefully listen and take notes, if necessary). Being open to constructive feedback, showing initiative in learning and applying your mentor’s guidance, and expressing your gratitude is a must, too, in maintaining an effective mentee-mentor relationship.

In time, you can also become a sought-after mentor! 

5. Practice Effective Time Management Skills

The ability to fulfill your roles and meet your responsibilities in your new job demands effective time management skills. These soft skills are also essential in making a good impression among your colleagues and supervisors and in maintaining a healthy work-life balance. 

Fortunately, practicing effective time management skills shouldn’t be a big deal in your case! You survived, perhaps even thrived, during your graduate school years, so it isn’t a stretch to apply your time management skills in your new post-grad job. But, of course, there are specific aspects of starting your new post-grad job that make these tips useful.

Over time, you will reap the benefits of being determined and disciplined in your time management.

6. Ask for and Be Open to Feedback

Feedback in the workplace context is the process of providing employees and managers with constructive comments, observations and information about their work-related performance and behaviors. This is a vital mechanism for performance improvement, recognition and motivation, and conflict resolution, as well as personal and professional development.

While feedback takes formal forms, such as performance reviews, one-on-one and group meetings, and project-specific feedback, you should also seek informal feedback. Your colleagues and supervisors can provide constructive feedback about your performance and contributions, as well as the areas that need improvement.

Your willingness to ask for feedback and be open to suggestions demonstrate your willingness to learn and improve, a crucial trait for professional success even with your graduate degree and extensive work experience.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind about feedback in the workplace.

Being open-minded about feedback is vital in this ongoing process, too. Becoming defensive, particularly in the face of critical feedback, will backfire. And don’t forget to express your thanks to your colleagues and supervisors for their feedback. 

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In all these steps in starting a new post-graduate job, you must be adaptable, confident and positive! Even with your advanced degree, you will likely still be introduced to new tools and technologies, as well as challenges that will put your knowledge and skills to the test. Your flexible and adaptable mindset will become a valuable asset in the ever-changing 21st-century workplace, and it will boost your confidence in your skills to excel in your new job. 

We’re certain of one thing—your search for more information on picking the best graduate degree or school landed you here. Let our experts help guide your through the decision making process with thoughtful content written by experts.