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You've Got the Job -- What's Next?

You've just hung up the phone after accepting a job offer, putting an end to a nerve-racking search. Since your start date is six weeks away, you can just kick back and enjoy yourself until then, right? Wrong.

OK, you can take a few days off to decompress and put your head back on straight. But there are still several things you can do in the following weeks to prepare personally and professionally for your new career.

Stay in Touch

Let's say you accept a job offer and your starting date is months away. Don't fall off of the face of the earth until your first day at work. Keep in touch with your employer. This doesn't have to be anything formal or elaborate -- just a simple phone call, email or letter to let them know how things are going with you. If you have six weeks before you start, contact your employer five weeks, three weeks and one week before you show up in person.

Since employers may hire dozens of graduates, this communication will keep your name fresh on their minds and reinforce that they made the right decision hiring you. You are laying the groundwork for your professional reputation and staying in touch before your first day will create an excitement about you. Plus, most employers are busy and love to be reminded that someone will soon be helping with their workload.

Start Studying

Ask your employer if there is anything you should look at, read or do to prepare for your position. Is there a software program you can brush up on? Are there any competitors you can study? Is there a trade journal or industry publication you can read? Is there a professional organization that is sponsoring a meeting you can attend? Are there any manuals, brochures, press releases or anything else you can review beforehand to help you get a feel for the company so you can get up to speed more quickly?

There might not be anything, but by asking, you are making an impression that you are eager to learn and willing to do what it takes to improve.

Organize Your Life

Get your personal affairs in order before you start work. This means taking care of the mundane things you won't have time to deal with when you're working full-time. Clean your apartment. Go to the grocery store. Balance your checkbook and pay your bills. Do all of your laundry. Write or visit your friends and family. Find a dry cleaners. Map out and time a route to work.

These may seem like small things, but they are exactly the kinds of things that can suck away all your free time when you are working. You are going to be overwhelmed once you start your job and won't have time to mess with these details. Be prepared.

Have Fun

I hope your job is fun, but remember: It will be a long time before you get a vacation or any meaningful time off. Spring break and fall break are things of the past. A three-day weekend may be the best you can do, at least for the first six months to a year. So enjoy yourself while you can -- take a road trip, go to movies during the day, take naps and watch TV. Relax and get energized so you can start your new job with a bang.

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