From Carefree Co-ed to Young Boss: 3 Steps to Upgrade Your Social Game

Replace the reckless abandonment with strategic networking

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From overcrowded house parties and all-night club hopping, to networking events and afterwork happy hours, there comes a time when one must make the transition from the college party lifestyle to the social life of a young boss.

Partying in college is undeniably one of the most memorable aspects of life as a student, and if done safely, not all partying is bad. Experts say leisure activities such as social events can help to alleviate stress, improve social skills and provide opportunities to connect with peers who might become the next Fortune 500 CEOs.

Shaniqua Thompson, a first-year law student at Howard University School of Law, remembers her early years as an undergraduate at the University of Florida. “I had a lot of fun, and I lived,” she says.

Here are three tips for making the transition from the leisure world of being a co-ed to the power moves of a professional a piece of cake:

Remember: Now, it’s not just a party. It’s whose party and what purpose. Currently serving as secretary of Howard’s Class of 2015 executive board, Thompson is also a freelancer for The Reality Rehab, an online recruiter for The Urban Experience Radio Show. “In undergrad, a party is just a party. In graduate school, a party is an opportunity to network,” she says. It’s good to be strategic about your social activities and think about your bottom line. True, some activities can simply be worth participating in for the fun factor, but as a working professional, it’s a good idea to be mindful of how you’re spending your time and the return on investment.

Know your enough-is-enough limit, and stop there. The days of nonstop partying and effortlessly waking up for that 9 a.m. class are over. Also, there’s a difference between interacting with college peers and attending the company Christmas party with the boss and board members. Limiting reckless abandonment can be key for focusing your efforts during those key years of building your professional brand or pursuing other endeavors. For Thompson, having a full social life in college and making great memories —within reason— was a vital part of making her transition seamless. ”It helped by getting the need to party out of my system. Now, it’s easier to live this caveman lifestyle where I study all the time because I know I’m not missing anything.”

Expand your scope of communicating and networking. Your readiness for any opportunities that come your way goes beyond the classroom, yard, bar or house party. It’s a good idea to be well-rounded and able to talk with people no matter what the arena. “I thank the University of Florida for teaching me some great networking skills, so my transition was easy,” Thompson says. “I am always aware of my environment, and how to interact with professionals in a social setting. My biggest obstacle has been constantly having my ‘game face’ on. You never know who you’re going to meet or where you’re going to meet them, so you always have to be prepared.”

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