Things I wish I thought more about as a shiny new graduate
It can be daunting and overwhelming as you make the transition from a newly minted university graduate into the working world. You start your life progressing through chapters, from the bottom and moving up as your grow and learn. Formally finishing your schooling is not only completing a chapter but I’d say an entire book in itself. When you enter the working world, it’s a whole new book altogether – the book of adulting and the first chapter that goes with it, working life. Which is why it is a transition that I think can be particularly all consuming compared to the other life phases you have accomplished to date. Here are some things to help in this exciting, scary, new, challenging, fun period:
Seriously, you will realise how much time you had to play with back in school despite feeling like you were constantly in the cycle of classes, assignments and exams. Because generally speaking, you’ll be in one building for a solid 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, forevermore (#kiddingaboutforever, but you know what I mean). Think about it, when has that happened ever in your routine to date?
I remember I was always tired and it took some time to get the right balance between getting enough rest, bar-hopping with friends and other hobbies. Knowing this, it’s important to value your time and learn to wisely allocate it to things (and people) that are most important to you.
It’s not about you
One time at work one of the most senior partners at the firm asked me to go to a client meeting with him. I had done work for him previously and we got on quite well. We got up from our desks to go and our conversation went like this:
Him: “Do you have a jacket”
Me, touched: “No, is it cold outside?”
“No, the client is coming to the office”
Bless my unenlightened self – of course he expected that I would be in a full suit to meet a client rather than be concerned for my physical comfort and wellbeing.
Suffice to say, even if your workplace loves you, they will only love you as much as you deliver and are good for what the organisation needs. With that in mind, don’t be complacent just because you may have landed your dream job. Be proactive in regularly furthering your professional skills and experience.
You need a work cheersquad
It’s naïve to think that you will progress in your career simply by working hard. You need supporters, sponsors, advocates – work influencers who will sing your praises and help you grow your professional brand. This means you need to take the time to develop and nurture good relationships with your colleagues, managers and key people at work who will be exposed to you and your work, and think of you as someone to suggest for that amazing project, new role that has come up, or overseas conference etc.
Be wise with your finances
Don’t get too excited and spend all your newfound full-time wages making it rain at Louis Vuitton. This is probably the best part: going from using student discount coupons to actually being able to dine out at a nice restaurant sans discount. But develop a discipline of budgeting and make sure you put some funds away to save for the bigger ticket things down the track. You might think you don’t want that house with the white picket fence right now, but you might change your mind 5 years from now so it’s important that you’ve laid the financial groundwork for that when the time comes.
And lastly, be nice to your mother. Seriously. I have written this many times before; while you are busy conquering the world, your parents are quietly ageing in the background. Don’t forget to give them your time too. A friend said to me recently that when her mother annoys her to breaking point, she says to herself “Imagine she’s dead”, and immediately the annoyingness dissipates. Morbid, but effective.
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