You’ve just graduated and are about to enter the workforce. Congratulations! It’s time to drop the Harry Potter-esque graduation regalia and slip into something more professional.
Starting a new job can be daunting; starting your new career can be daunting x 10. Having recently graduated I have decided to take the time to reflect and offer advice where I can on how to slip out of the studying mindset and into the 9 to 5.
Who are these people? Where’s the bathroom? When’s lunch? You will have many, many questions when starting your new job and a lot of them will take a few weeks to be answered but be comforted in the fact that they will be and before you know it you will feel like you’ve been a professional for a lot longer than you actually have been. You will probably know this already but do realise that it will be different. You now have just the one classroom (workplace) you need to be at. And you have to be there all day! Don’t be daunted – there is a lunch break to recharge and having set hours does actually do wonders to your productivity. Embrace the change; you will become better at everything you do because of it!
Mmmm delicious knowledge food
Learning is an ongoing process that will continue for the duration of your working life. Unfortunately having become accustomed to different learning methods during your studies you may find that learning in a work environment is done differently. This makes sense – your study provider set everything up for you to learn. Their goal and your sole purpose is to get you good enough grades to pass and get a qualification. Compare that to the work environment where time is money and things need to be learnt so jobs can get done and bills can get paid! And you will soon realise that there are no bite-sized packages of information to digest regularly and instead you will need to rely on soaking up everything you get shown like some unfillable sponge. This hands-on approach is great but do take the time to document what you can, spend the time to digest the information you have been taught, and if in doubt ask a colleague for clarification or consult the ever reliable Dr Google.
Become a reliable team player. During study there most likely will be times you are forced into a group to collectively complete a project. I say collectively but in reality there will be times where collectively in a team of four, for example, means two. The math doesn’t add up but the truth doesn’t lie and you may have had a team member who has not pulled their weight. Perhaps this team member was you, in which case you may need to reread the next sentence thoroughly. In a business environment every single member of the team (including you) needs to play their part. In many situations a department or colleague is relying on you to finish work so they can get started on it. Do not hold up the business train! Additionally you will be spending the majority of your time with your new colleagues so make sure you are friendly and easy enough to get along with.
I Know Everything… I Know Nothing
The euphoric highs of thinking you know everything when you graduate are sure to be reduced to constant questioning of your own ability at some stage. This is natural and is known as the ‘Learning Curve’.
A visual representation of your mental state / self doubt as you find out what you do and do not know
The learning curve you experience is a cruel beast and will toy with your mental state in the same way that a lion plays with its food. When entering the workplace most of you will be somewhere around the naively confident stage of the curve. Having just graduated brimming with all kings of knowledge you will assume (falsely) that you know everything and that nothing is impossible. This is a false reality and unfortunately you have a pretty steep slope to gracefully fall down to the ‘discouragingly realistic’ trough where now you at least know what you don’t know. Only then can you start the ascent that is the hard climb to the top where mastery is achieved. It’s a tough journey that may feel like Everest at times but it is one we must all undergo. Do yourself a favour and find yourself a Tenzing-Norgay-of-sorts mentor that can point you in the right direction and help guide you to the top.
You Can Do It!
Anyone who has ever started a new career will have been daunted at some point but they manage to get through. There is comfort in those words as if everyone else can do it why can’t you?! You can and will! Take note of the above tips and apply yourself and before you know it you will feel like a true professional at your new workplace.