Practical Advice for Graduates
What is a 20-Something to do in the Digital Age?
There are always the motivated and sensible graduates who know exactly where to go and what to do to launch their career path. Unfortunately this is not the case with every one. Freshly decanted from university, many 20-somethings are left with their heads spinning. Between the information overload found on the Internet and the ambiguous advice from career guidance officials, this is not surprising. The average graduate may use some of these tips and tricks to create the perfect CV, nail the interview and then land the entry-level job of their dreams, but what happens then? There simply is no such thing as the: ‘How not to Mess up Your First job for Dummies’ guide.
Beyond the obvious, real-world advice from seasoned employees can be very useful to fledgling workers. The following advice is based on actual experience in the workplace.
• Be nice – Slotting into a company’s culture is becoming increasingly important. These days, colleagues spend more stressful time together because of longer working hours and a more pressurized business environment. Being nice goes a long way.
• Get to know the industry – Whether it is the Wall Street Journal or Cosmopolitan, read about the industry you are in. It will not only help you to learn more about the business you are in but will also provide something to talk about to other employees.
• Figure out how your skills are relevant to your role – Even when a worker is fresh out of school, they can bring meaningful contributions to the table. The trick is to demonstrate how your skills are useful to the company. Instead of showing generic enthusiasm, offer specific input, in line with your skill set.
• Speak well – Regardless of the position, employees are expected to have a reasonable writing and speaking ability. It pays to brush up on grammar with a quick course, even the free online courses available. Don’t ever use slang or excessive foul language.
• Network – Whether you join the office social club or volunteer at the local animal shelter, you are bound to meet people from all walks of life, just like it is in an office. It not only gives you something other than work and personal hobbies to talk about, but also helps you to develop social skills other than the typical student party kind of socialising.
• Get old-school – Too many Millennials have embraced bad manners like texting at work and dressing too casually. By being more respectful and taking better care of your appearance, you will stand out from the crowd. You may even want to try your hand at sending hand-written cards out at the end of the year instead of a mass mail e-card.
• Watch out for social networking – Do you really want your boss to see those drunken student party pics you were tagged in? Get to know how to use privacy settings, or create an alter-ego.
• Be nice to yourself – Care for yourself in small ways, like taking time to exercise, planning healthy meals or saving for a special trip. Don’t be a martyr and work all the extra available shifts, it is important that you take time to recuperate. If you do, you will be back bright-eyed and bushy tailed – and more impressive to management by far.
• Show gratitude – If somebody has done something nice for you at work, take the time to say a heartfelt thank you. Your sincerity and appreciation will leave a lasting impression.
• Remember, nothing lasts forever – Whether you are struggling through a particularly difficult task or enjoying good fortune in work, don’t forget that all things pass – both good and bad. Enjoy the good things and be grateful that the bad things are only temporary.