A recent study by Canvas found the top priority among students was leaving university adequately prepared for the world of work. Employers, on the other hand, have been lamenting the lack of graduate workplace skills in the latest CBI/Pearson Education and Skills Survey. Well, we’re here to help make your transition from campus to career easier, so you can settle in quickly and nail your job from day one. And start earning those big bucks so you can repay your student loans in no time!
Expect to feel shattered – at first
An alarm clock wake-up every morning, public transport commutes, and eight or more hours a day in an office will probably feel like a slog at first. Gone are the days when you could take a break whenever you wanted and stay up as late as you liked. But, trust us, it gets easier. Eat well, get enough sleep and make the most of your free time to keep a healthy work-life balance. Within a couple of weeks, you’ll be rocking your new schedule and the new job.
Being a team player
When it comes to the workplace, nearly all jobs require a team effort. You’ll need to communicate, compromise and share credit in order to achieve a common goal. Here are a few team-working tips for you to keep in mind:
—If you’re the confident type, be careful you don’t take over. Listening is even more important than contributing when it come to working well in a team.
—If you’re shy, make sure you speak up when you have something valuable to say. Otherwise your colleagues won’t see what an important part of the team you really are.
—Don’t assume everyone knows what you know. Sharing knowledge is key to keeping a project moving forward with as few hiccups as possible.
—Ensure your delivery is consistent and reliable. That way, you won’t get a reputation for letting others down.
—Roll with the punches. If you complain and get stressed out, you’ll be damaging team morale. Take a deep breath and embrace what needs to be done.
—A good team player considers different points of view. While it’s great to have your own opinions, compromise is the best way to reach a strong solution and avoid slowing the project down.
Have realistic ambitions
We’re sure you’ll impress in your new job, but it’s important to keep your feet firmly on the ground. Promotions don’t come easy, even if you’re doing everything right. Many factors – the size of your company, employee retention rates, company structure, financial performance – will come into play. Don’t expect a promotion to land in your lap before you’ve completed one year, and be prepared for it to take two or three. Stick with it and you’ll reap the benefits soon.
Be a problem-solving pro
The modern workplace values innovation and creativity. Employers are looking for graduates who can look at a task and not only see the outcome, but also imagine different ways to achieve it. This means having the confidence to express your ideas, no matter how dumb you think they might be. It’s not an easy habit to pick up, but it’s one that will see you excel.
Lateral thinking (approaching a problem from new directions – or ‘thinking outside of the box’, if you’re that way inclined) is a skill you can learn. Try turning every assumption and principle on its head and see where that leads. Another trick is to focus on the solution. A recent study revealed problem-orientated thinking, rather than solution-orientated thinking, made problems much harder to solve. It also helps to strip away the detail and go back to basics. Sometimes removing the clutter is all it takes for a good idea to emerge.
Keep challenging yourself
Most workplaces will offer far less variety and mental stimulation than university. Expect to perform tasks that might be boring, repetitious and require a limited amount of brainpower. Everyone has to start somewhere. While you should accept your responsibilities courteously, finding ways to stay challenged is important or you’ll never go the distance. Talk to your line manager about taking on additional, more interesting work, ask to attend meetings with more senior employees, volunteer for brainstorms and seek out professional development opportunities.
Engage with everyone
Get ready to work with a wide range of different people daily. From age and education levels to attitudes and values. Some of them you’ll love, but many you’ll want to kill the first time you meet. Suck it up, because you need to figure out how to work with them all.
You must remain professional in the face of rudeness and incompetence. Avoid getting sucked into gossip corner with the office shirker. Steer clear of the very-busy-very-important-very-highly-strung CEO when he’s perfecting a client presentation. Ask your father-of-three line manager how his kids are getting on at school. But, most importantly, find your people, because you’ll need to discuss your most irksome colleagues during after-work drinks.