Graduating from college is an exciting milestone, but it can also be one of the most daunting times of your life. The transition from higher education to the ‘real’ working world will leave many fresh grads feeling a little anxious about the next chapter, and justifiably so.
Since starting kindergarten to finishing college your routine has been largely mapped out for you, but now the opportunity to demonstrate everything you have learned has come! All the coursework, exams, blood, sweat and tears of the last decade has been leading up to this graduate job. Here’s some tips on how to make a big impact from your first day to guarantee success.
Your first grad job will undoubtedly involve a lot of new learning and training. When people are explaining things to you, the notes won’t be online later, so make sure you are listening carefully and write down any key points.
Having said this, do not stare at your notepad for the entirety of a meeting, be sure to make eye contact and engage with your team. Volunteer ideas if the opportunity comes up and do not be afraid to ask questions if you are unsure of something - better to clear things up now rather than get it wrong further down the line.
The Early Bird Catches the Worm
If you were unlucky enough to have had the dreaded 9AM classes at college, karma has come back around, since you will most probably be better equipped to deal with the early starts inherent to grad job life. Though the night owls among us may struggle, do not try and force a “down it freshman” coffee. You will probably burn your mouth, get the shakes and be jitterbugging round the office unable to properly focus.
Instead, aim to keep a healthy office lifestyle; go to bed earlier and wake up earlier, use your shiny new salary to trade student staples of pasta in a pot, ramen noodles and Pop-Tarts for some complex carbs and veggies to keep you alert throughout the day. Join sports teams or fitness clubs that your employers offer, these activities provide perfect opportunities to meet more of your colleagues and keep fit in mind and body!
Look the Part
The times of lectures in hangover hoodies, sweatpants or last night’s outfit are gone. Whether it’s suits and ties or smart casual, time manage so you don’t get caught out looking scruffy, unorganized or unprofessional. Plan your outfits the night before so you avoid any morning wardrobe meltdowns and get that extra five minutes in bed.
Work nights out are not college parties. Ending up face down in a takeout store at 11pm is not the objective. Office socials provide a great opportunity to network, meet new team members and strengthen existing relationships, so definitely accept invitations to social events.
To avoid any (fast food) faux pas, implement a strict ‘one drink only’ plan for after-work drinks. For longer events drink slowly, alternate your alcoholic drinks with non-alcoholic beverages and make sure you have eaten.
Be There or be Square
Turn up and be punctual. It will reflect badly on you if you are late or absent so leave plenty of travel time. Make sure you organize a work calendar and know your schedule. You are no longer paying to study, now you are being paid to work - make the most of it! Typically, the main reason people go to college is to qualify for a better job, you’ve achieved this, so turn up and enjoy your success.
You've got Skills
Many of the programs, systems and jargon used in your new grad job will initially be unfamiliar to you and at times may seem overwhelming - don’t panic. In between the house parties and tequilas you actually will have learnt a great deal during your college career - those exams did not pass themselves!
You were hired for a reason and in these stressful moments, take a second to remember that. All degree courses improve your transferable skills, which are vital to any job. You know how to do good research, read and understand huge amounts of information, organize your time, and write and present your ideas clearly. With time, patience and practice these initially unfamiliar aspects of the job will soon become second nature, so do not stress.
To sum up, you’ve done great to get where you are today. Continue this conscientious approach to the new challenges you face in your grad job, be respectful of your work place and your colleagues, learn from your mistakes and enjoy your successes. Good luck!