Surviving Your First Graduate Job

By Maddie Anandarajah on 05-05-2017
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When making your way home after graduation and a well-deserved break, you find yourself beaming with pride, as you should. It took more all-nighters and energy drinks to walk away with that certificate in your hand than you’d like to admit but in the end, it’s worth the investment for the world of work to come. So shake the holiday out of you and get ready to commit to those work hours – don’t worry, the hours will get easier (but maybe not the Monday morning blues). So here is how you can give yourself the best kick-start in a world that is still somewhat unknown to you:

Optimism through perspective

Now whatever role you got, whether a fully-fledged graduate role or a temporary internship, never falter. Sure, the landscape has changed and you had to abandon your worn out University hoody and put on an ironed shirt but the concept is the same; starting at the beginning, adjusting, working hard, learning and reaping the benefits. So before you sulk at the low income (and for the love of God, don’t compare it to your student loans) and having the responsibility of unjamming the photocopier at every turn, realise that it wasn’t much different during your first University lecture. What you saw ahead on your open day were tonnes of dissertations, coursework, presentations and revision sessions and this way of life was surely overwhelming at times but you persevered and got the honour of wearing those Harry Potter robes (minus the wand).

Leave an impression by being proactive

Especially as your first gig, whether you want to stick around and progress within the same company or leave for something better; you need the approval of your superiors. This will come in handy at every important turning point in your life including promotions, pay rise negotiations and of course, references.

So how do you go about going that? You leave your mark. One thing that never ceases to impress is innovation mixed with a healthy dose of confidence. This means you are able to contribute at meetings, put yourself out there and really believe that your ideas are worth being heard. Whether those get rejected or not, it carves out an image of someone who is willing to not simply complete the tasks at hand but go above and beyond. Not to mention, if one of your ideas do get implemented, your CV will want a piece of that!

Ask for more

You see, a job position does not simply have to be just that. For example, perhaps you worked retail for a few years and your title came under ‘check-out assistant’. Did you spend all your time behind the till? Or were you involved in stocking, management, customer service, keeping track of supplies etc.? Or even as a content writer; of course you will want to have a way with words but why not learn a little extra with adjacent roles such as marketing, Photoshop and web design? If there are experts at your place of employment that work within your field that can potentially teach you, see it as your opportunity to become the full package!

Socialise

It goes without saying but the company you make at work makes all the difference. You are spending more time with these people than even your own family and friends. This means you would make it a lot easier on yourself if you make some lasting bonds. If you are one who needs their hibernation sessions, use the weekends, not the work meetings (although the temptation will always be there).

Organisation

Nothing leaves a worse impression with your bosses than being unorganised. Much like your teachers reamed you out in front of your class when you left your textbook at home (or for some reason, your whole school bag, which has happened) it is even worse if you’re the newbie and don’t have the essentials. This goes hand in hand with being on time including taking the right length of designated breaks – you might think they won’t notice the extra five minutes – but do you really want to take that risk?

Ultimately, it’s all about working hard, putting yourself out there and implementing a lot of what you learned during your studies. Keep a positive attitude and prove that you’re there to make a difference and it won’t go unnoticed!

Maddie Anandarajah is a Student Job blogger, she graduated from Greenwich University in 2014 with a BA in Criminology and has obtained a Master's in MA International Relations. Check out her blog here.

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