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5 tips for success for graduates entering the workforce

Landing your first job after university can be a thrill – the excitement of a new challenge, of transitioning from student to full-time work life, and the opportunity to build the foundations of a longer-term career.

Yet for others, finding work or fitting in with a company’s culture and expectations can seem an impossible task, fraught with stressful deadlines, tricky new environments to navigate and people to please.

Studies have shown that universities or colleges have found it difficult to fully prepare students for what lies beyond them after graduation.

So how can recent graduates succeed in overcoming the “culture shock” of entering the workforce?

Learn how to make an impact at work – for the right reasons. Photo from pexels.com.

Here at CONTRACT, we’ve have five simple tips to help newbie grads navigate the world of work:

1. Don’t put too much pressure on making your first job the ‘dream job’ where you’ll spend the next 40 years:

Many working adults still don’t know what they want to be when they “grow up” – and that’s perfectly fine! See each role as an opportunity to learn and grow in the direction of your ultimate goals. Take risks, discover your strengths and weaknesses, make new connections, enhance your practical and theoretical knowledge, and focus on building the foundation towards where you’d like to end up at retirement. Big promotions take time. For now, focus on doing the small things well.

2. Develop better personal habits and time management:

At university and college, you could skip lectures, procrastinate on deadlines, cram for exams and party ’til the sun rose. Not so much in the workplace! Employers are looking for self-starters who are motivated and don’t need much hand-holding. Identify the areas of your life that need more discipline, organisation and balance (this includes cleaning up your social media platforms!). Trim your social calendar until you’re able to manage a schedule that includes time for work, commuting, exercise, healthy eating, worthwhile hobbies – and enough sleep. Then get a calendar, app, or accountability partner to ensure you keep on track with deadlines and goals.

Your goals, personal and professional, start today. Photo from pexels.com.

3. Learn to cope with stress in a healthy way:

Failing to adapt to the stresses of the workplace can lead to unmet deadlines, decreased social interaction, burnout, unnecessary debt or getting fired. Thus, it’s crucial to learn skills to build your resilience and cope with these expectations.

Learning to effectively cope with stress can make or break your success in the workplace. Photo from pexels.com.

4. Build – and stick to – a budget:

While it may seem like you’ve suddenly struck gold with a steady income after living off student bursaries, take time to assess what’s coming in each month and track expenses carefully. New office attire can also get expensive, as can lunches out with colleagues – so stick to your budget and look for opportunities to trim expenses where you can. Avoid taking on new debt (like a swanky flat or a new car) in your first year of work, instead focusing on building up an emergency fund of at least six-months rent, paying off existing debts and outlining your short- and long-term financial goals. We know, this is way less sexy than a shiny new ride – but your future self will thank you.

A budget can help you meet your financial goals – and avoid disaster – with your new salary at work. Photo from pexels.com.

5. Speak the same language:

Chances are, the people in your office will not take well to being called “homies” (unless you’ve signed on for a job at an ultra-hip millenial start-up). Go easy on slang – particularly with colleagues of different ages and those in managerial roles – and treat everyone with respect. Understand the importance of speaking professionally with clients and colleagues, and realise that while a younger generation might prefer emails or WhatsApp texts to discuss work-related matters, others conduct business via a call or face-to-face interactions.

What you say, and how you say it (including the means of communication) is a vital part of meshing with your intergenerational colleagues. Photo from pexels.com.


Want to learn more?

Are you a recent graduate, student or entry-level employee? CONTRACT is offering a workshop to equip you with tools for success. ‘Making it Work’ will help you adeptly navigate the transition from student to full-time work life in the following ways:

LEARN about common challenges affecting first time and entry level employees;
REFLECT on your current experiences in your work life;
EXPLORE the key principles and behaviours that help you adjust into the world of work;
INTEGRATE various tools and models to help;
DISCUSS experiences and share challenges with others to find workable solutions;
APPLY your learning to set yourself up for the future;
PLAN what you want to change to thrive however turbulent life gets.

Register now

Date: 14 November 2018 – 15:30 to 19:30

Price: R950 per person (excluding VAT)

Venue: CONTRACT – 26 Chiappini Street, De Waterkant, Cape Town

Facilitator: Muvambi Mudzamba

To book your place, call (0)21 418 2102 or email shafieka@contract-sa.co.za

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