06/09/2014 05:38 pm ET Updated Aug 09, 2014

3 Lessons I Have Learned Since Graduating

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Transitioning from student life to the world of full-time work is no easy feat. The graduating student often has more worries than there is time to worry about, weighing him or her down with new responsibilities and obligations. Thinking back on this transition with the benefit of nearly four years of work behind me, I have come up with a few answers that I wish I knew at graduation, which I hope will help others as they find their way after school.

1. Don't jump at the first job offer.

After graduation, you will most likely be applying for all kinds of positions. Instead of the "take whatever I can get" attitude, take the time to evaluate fully your current and future prospects at the company. Not only ask what you can do for them, but what the company can do for you. Is the company hoping to grow? Is the environment dynamic? Visualize the details of what a day at the office will look like and make sure it's the right fit. Otherwise, you may end up dreading your time in the office and lacking the inspiration to do well enough to contribute.

2. Be realistic about salary requirements.

Only you can decide what you need to earn to live comfortably. If a company suggests a low offer that will force you to take another job on the side to compensate, with little opportunity for raises or bonuses, then it most likely does not make sense to accept, no matter how incredible the job seems. Make your needs known and if the company can't be flexible or provide a path to higher compensation, find one that can.

3. Don't underestimate your worth.

Having years of experience is certainly valuable to an employer, but a lack of experience doesn't mean that you cannot contribute to your new organization's success. As a new graduate, you bring fresh viewpoints and ideas, as well as an eagerness that may have faded among more seasoned employees. Embrace your potential and opportunities, and you may find yourself as valuable to your employer as anyone else in the office. And when you make yourself invaluable, you have put yourself on a path to success at the business and beyond.

Leaving school for the real world can be a daunting prospect, and for good reason. However, this is an incredible time in your life, with the opportunity to begin a new career and get started building your resume as a professional. Be confident in yourself and your abilities, and embrace the opportunities that lie in your control, and there is no stopping you.