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Switching Up To Working Life

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In order to do well in your early career it pays to be thinking ahead. As well as polishing up your CV and practicing those interview skills, it is worth considering what you willl do once you actually land a job. Having a positive impact in the workplace is really important.

In order to do well in your early career it pays to be thinking ahead. As well as polishing up your CV and practicing those interview skills, it is worth considering what you'll do once you actually land a job. Having a positive impact in the workplace is really important. To adapt to working life successfully, it's worth remembering that the shift between university and work is a shift between cultures. It is not just a change in what you do, but a change in how you think and work with other people as well. Here are some changes that you'll need to get used to, and some basic tips for how to cope.
  1. From one set of relationships to two One of the biggest shifts between university and work is that you now have a set of professional relationships to manage. These relationships exist for a reason - to help your company do well - so the way you interact with your colleagues needs to be different from the way you interact with your friends and family. To be successful in work, you need to get good at managing two different sets of relationships at once.To manage this transition well, it helps to make a real effort to understand your workmates. What motivates them at work? Do they value the same things as you? Respect the fact that they may see the world in a very different light, and find ways to acknowledge this when you are working with them.
  2. From managing yourself to being managed Unless you're an entrepreneur, entering the workforce means that you'll suddenly have a boss. So, rather than doing standard assignments set by lecturers, you're likely to be doing work that is unique to you and designed by your manager. In this case, being successful is less about completing the tasks that you get given, and more about helping this specific person with what they are trying to achieve. To manage this transition well, practice putting yourself in a manager's shoes. What are they trying to achieve? Can you figure out 2-3 challenges that they might be facing? How can you, with your skills and enthusiasm, help them to meet those challenges? If you can find ways to help them as well as doing the work you get given, you can build a better relationship with your manager and progress faster.
  3. From conversations to feedback conversations At university, the things that you talk about with your peers are largely up to you. However, in the workplace you'll be having a lot more conversations specifically about your performance. As a result, the type of things you say, and when you say them, become a lot more important. Making sure you get useful feedback is a skill that you'll need to master. To manage this transition well, try to identify examples of helpful versus unhelpful feedback. As a guide, helpful feedback is specific, based on evidence and constructive e.g. 'I noticed that your last report was late. Have you tried booking in a review meeting before your deadline?' In comparison, unhelpful feedback is generally negative and vague e.g. 'I get the sense you're not presenting well in meetings'. If someone gives you unhelpful feedback, always check for clarity by asking specific questions e.g. 'Can you give me a specific example?', or 'Would it help if I did X?' Adapting to working life can take a while. But a few simple techniques can speed this process up and help you make much more of an impact when you arrive!
Thanks to this week's guest post contributor, Samuel Gordon, Managing Director of First Year In. This is a new consultancy that helps businesses bring their new graduates up to speed. Specifically, FYI focuses on culture, and helping graduates to adapt to it. 
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