I’ve always heard people talk about how difficult writing is but never did I comprehend the magnitude of this difficulty until a few weeks ago when I made the resolution to start a blog! So, here I am, putting pen to paper (fingers to keyboard) and boy, oh boy (Am I allowed to say ‘Yoh’?) I’m struggling! In my defense though, the last time I wrote creatively was 6 years ago when I was in grade 12 and to be honest, writing about ‘My Favourite Birthday Party’ for every creative writing essay hit its creativity ceiling pretty soon! Nevertheless, here I am venturing into something new and exciting, quite like the topic of this post: A Graduates Guide – Venturing Into The New and Exciting World of
It’s about that time of the year where a large population of fresh, creative, innovative, dynamic, and enthusiastic youth enter the workforce for the first time. It is my genuine hope that this simple guide help in maintaining the freshness, creativity, (innovativity?), dynamism, and enthusiasm of these youth because that is exactly what this beautiful country’s workforce needs!
1. Get Uncomfortable
If you haven’t yet landed a job, are still on the hunt, and feel you’ve exhausted your options, try looking for the opportunities which scare you, challenge you, and make you feel uncomfortable. Don’t restrict yourself to what you know but rather, open yourself up to what you don’t know. Your most significant amount of learning and subsequent growth occurs outside of your comfort zone – be daring! Personally, what I studied at University and what I practice today are worlds apart. Today, I love my job and find my learning and growth curves to be positively exponential!
2. Google Google Google
Once you’ve entered into your new place of work, everything is going to be a blur. You will be overwhelmed by a constant blabbering of jargon, tools and techniques, and procedures which will sound like Dothraki to you. The way to deal with this: Google Google Google! I think it’s safe for me to generalize this to life – Google is Man’s best friend! Knowing what and how to Google will save you a lot of time and apparent embarrassment. For starters, Google ‘How to Google’. An abundance of resources await you, so get Googling!
3. Find a Mentor
I’m being very careful with my choice of words here: ‘Find’ a mentor, not ‘Get’ a mentor. If you’re joining on a graduate program of some sorts, HR will probably assign a mentor to you. The relationship with this assigned mentor may or may not be favourable. It is up to you, however, to socialize with a lot of people and in doing so you will naturally gravitate towards someone whom you align with. How do you tell if someone is a mentor to you? Well, put simply, this person will show a genuine interest in your growth both personally and professionally. Every interaction with this person, whether positive or negative, will leave you with a new lesson – it is up to you to translate those lessons into character growth. This brings me to the next point, which I strongly believe is the most important guideline. If every word thus far has made no sense to you (quite like the ending of Christopher Nolan’s Inception), I ask that you make an earnest attempt at understanding and internalising the next point.
4. Take Initiative
At the start of every day, you are completely responsible for how much value you add to yourself and your organisation, and the best way to do this is through proactive learning. What is proactive learning? Here’s my oversimplification:
- Discovery: Discover something new which you don’t/didn’t know about or, alternatively, come up with an idea of something new/different which could benefit you or the organisation (it does not matter how big or small).
- Exploration: Using the abundance of resources at your disposal, do some preliminary research/inquiry/brainstorming into this ‘new thing’.
- Execution: Based on your exploration, go ahead and have a crack at actually doing what you had in mind. This execution may take several forms such as writing a piece of code, taking an online course, speaking to a group of important stakeholders or scribbling on a white board.
The underlying thread through these three steps of proactive learning is that you do not wait for someone to tell you to discover, explore and execute. You choose to discover, explore and execute. At this point, I must bring to light a shadow which will walk besides you throughout your first year of work.
5. The Label
From day one, a shadow will walk besides you – the shadow of a label. ‘The New Grad’, ‘The Intern’, ‘The New Kid’ or whatever your kind co-workers come up with. Now, here’s the thing about this shadow: it’s not as ominous and dark as it seems! This shadow will help you at times throughout the year and will also challenge you at times throughout the year. Here’s how: the workplace is generally more lenient towards graduates which means (in all likelihood, I hope) you will be allowed to fail and make mistakes without losing your job. So, fail quick, fail safe, and fail cheap, but don’t be afraid to fail. Secondly, and this may happen a lot, your worth, credibility and how serious people take you will be shadowed by the label. This can get quite frustrating but don’t let yourself be misguided by false entitlement. You are new – prove yourself! Discover, Explore, and Execute!
The above guidelines are in no way exhaustive. There are a tonne of things which you may need to add to your arsenal in order to survive your first year of work, but the beauty of the first year lies in the unexpected, so why make an exhaustive list?
It is my genuine hope that your first year of work does not crush your spirit but only make it stronger. The guidelines outlined in this post are things which I learnt from my first year of work. In 10 months time, I would love to see what your list looks like. You are destined for greatness, go out and fearlessly realize it.
Lastly, please give this post a thumbs up if you enjoyed it and gained some value from it. More importantly, you never know who else may gain value from it. So, please share it! I leave you with the wise words of one of my closest friends (which she stole from an Ancient Greek Aphorism):