#Gradlife: Advice from a Real Graduate Entering the Workforce
You’re five years old, your backpack is on, and your lunch is packed. You walk in with your parent and stand in front of the door. Congratulations, you have made it to the first day of primary school. The opportunities are endless; you can be anything you want to be when you “grow up”, life is simple, you’re feeling great! Flash forward to 16 years later – “your palms are sweaty, knees week, arms are heavy…” You’re about to sit your last exam EVER at university! You walk out feeling like you are now ready for the world. “Come at me, full-time employment!” are your initial thoughts as you walk across the stage at Aotea Centre to receive that very important piece of paper.
The feeling of being a brand new, shiny graduate is amazing (I would know; I was an AUT graduate in August of last year). In one of the last semesters of my degree, I secured an amazing position right after my last exam! I currently work as a Candidate Manager and help recruit for contact centre positions. In our team, we get a lot of graduates applying, which is great. But before you click apply, I strongly urge that you consider a few things. The points made below are based solely on my experience as a new grad entering the workforce and what I have learnt along the way.
1) Everyone loves a good noob
Most of us complete uni without really knowing what we want to do (unless you have studied something industry specific, such as nursing, accounting, etc.). In some cases, what we want to do now is not even what we initially studied. Guess what? That is ok! Chances are, you still won’t know specifically what you want to do five years from now. Again, that is ok too! Trial and error is key; you aren’t going to know what you like and don’t like without giving it a go first. I personally did not even know what recruitment agencies were and what they did until I started looking for placement opportunities for my degree. I also never thought I would be interviewing people so early on from uni, but here I am. Did the idea terrify me to bits? Hell yes! Am I the best at it now? Definitely not! But turns out it is something that I enjoy! I am learning as I go, and you will be no different. Doing things outside of your comfort zone will either:
- Add a skill or two to your CV/LinkedIn profile
- Help you decide what you want in your next position
- Show you what you are good at/not so good at
You will make mistakes as you go, own up to them, learn, and move on. There really is no harm in trying, especially if you have spent most your life studying and are limited in skills.
2) Don’t be basic
I’m sure you all know what this means, but think of it in a working sense. Most of us don’t want to be average. If you don’t want to be average, the answer is simple – don’t be! In a new role, you aren’t going to be amazing straight off the bat. Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, you won’t achieve the results you had hoped for. This can be frustrating, especially when you are surrounded by people who make everything look easy. I sometimes feel like this in my current job, and my advice is simple – don’t give up! As cliché as it may sound, hard work does eventually pay off! Sometimes you will need to do research outside of working hours, sometimes you will need to come into work when no-one else is in, and sometimes you will need to stay back late. My tip is to do it when you can – it will be worth it. Attitude is key; even though you might be right in thinking “I don’t get paid enough for this”, if you excel at what you are doing currently, you will be more than capable of taking the next step in your career and receiving the top dollars you had been hoping for (if that is your goal). You can’t expect to get a promotion or be recognised for your efforts if you are only doing the bare minimum! Always remember, you have the same amount of hours in a day as Beyoncé, and she is definitely NOT basic.
3) Permanent employment doesn’t mean a lifetime sentence
You find yourself looking at an advertisement or reflecting on the face-to-face interview you had earlier that day. You think to yourself, “Do I really want to be doing this for the rest of my life?” If this is you right now, get that out of your thought process and mentally throw it away as far as you can. 18 months to 2 years commitment is what we tell our candidates when talking about a permanent job opportunity. Quite frankly, the first 6 – 12 months will just be figuring everything out. If you have given it an honest go after that timeframe and are still miserable, hand in your notice and move on (come to Madison and we will help you). I say that loosely, but I genuinely mean it. Although we are a recruitment agency, we try our best to build a genuine connection with candidates. Don’t be afraid to say what you want; at the end of the day, this is YOUR life.
4) Have fun, there’s plenty of time!
When I first started working at Madison, my understanding of full time employment was completely different to what it is now. I used to think that I was supposed to work Monday – Friday and have fun/relax during the weekend. Once you get familiar with the 8:30 – 5:00 routine, I would strongly recommend that you make your weekdays more exciting! You’re working now; you can trade the instant noodles for a decent restaurant meal, try out a new hobby, join the gym, etc. I personally think this could be an entire new blog post itself (watch this space)! The point I am trying to make is simple – don’t live for the weekend! I am actually trialling this out right now and can honestly say that when I go out and do things during the week, I actually look forward to coming in to work on Monday.
Adjusting to the working world after uni isn’t easy. But remember, you don’t have to have everything figured out just yet. Try things that scare you and make the most of every opportunity given to you in the meantime. Life will only be as complicated as you make it.
Still not convinced?
If you find yourself completely stuck after graduating and haven’t caught the travel bug, give temporary work a go. Temping will allow you to try out a number of different jobs without the commitment of permanent employment.