In our previous post, we realised that transitioning into the work environment isn’t something that most students are usually prepared for. It is too easy to carry the mentality of being a student into the classroom of the workplace. As we are all well aware of by now, life itself is a huge classroom. One that has no walls or windows, just this vast expanse of lessons upon lessons. And if you fail to learn the lesson the first time, be prepared to meet that trial again. Because until you learn the lesson, you don’t fully move on.
In the light of learning lessons and being aware of the classroom we’re always in, I would like to establish some do’s that students transitioning should consider. These are purely my own thoughts garnered from my one year of experience in the work world and my observation of and interaction with friends, colleagues and superiors.
Aim for Growth
As an individual starting up in any industry, use your period of transition to learn as much about your industry as you can. Maintain a conscious positive attitude. Like Apostle Paul admonished, “owe no man nothing, except love – where love in this case is found in 1 Cor 13”.
Be hungry for knowledge and experience, especially the mistakes. Perhaps because you are entry level, you may get away with certain blunders that more experienced people wouldn’t be allowed to. Open yourself up to absorb as much as you can: read, read and read. Learn, unlearn and learn, be aggressive and intentional about growing.
Don’t wait till your supervisor praises you before you seek to strive for and achieve more. Set goals for yourself, achieve them, celebrate yourself and keep setting more challenging goals as you move on. Promise yourself that you will leave your first entry job a more experienced, passionate, growth-focused professional.
If it means staying in after work to catch up on your own goals, do so. Dr Myles Munroe of blessed memory once said: “you work 9-5 for your employer, thus the only time you have to work for yourself is the time after work until you go to bed, so don’t waste it.” Bear in mind that, you grow best when you pull others along with you on your journey, so call a few friends, make some office/workplace friends, push each other and grow together. Don’t leave room for procrastination and laziness and all the passiveness that sometimes accompanies transitioning.
Build Useful Networks
The world is a huge connected mass of people who learn from each other and share their resources to survive. As a “newbie” or “tranisitioneer”, it’s easy to get lost in the crowd. Eventually succumbing to recurring episodes of low self-esteem and dwelling in the shadows. But that shouldn’t be your outlook if you want to be exceptional in your career and life as a whole. You never know who you may be eating lunch or getting coffee with, muster some courage to introduce yourself and get the other person talking. You will be amazed the amount of wisdom and knowledge stored up in individuals who look as plain as you do.
Attend events, exchange contacts, learn new skills, open up your mind for any eventuality if you want to grow and have a successful career. Building networks that are useful works best when you also have something to offer the other person and it’s not only you draining them or always wanting something from them. This means you have to acquire new skills if necessary, add value to the skills you already possess, collaborate with others on projects, etc. Just to ensure that when you meet someone at an event or in your office, you have something to offer them in exchange for whatever they are willing to share with you.
Your value as an individual is highly dependent on your skills, and this could mean critical thinking or just plain old effective communication and listening skills, the value someone would place on you depends on the kind of skill you possess. Check out this Harvard Business Review articles on networking: BE YOURSELF WHEN YOU NETWORK
Networking is more about “farming” than it is about “hunting”. It is about cultivating relationships.
-Dr Ivan Misner, BNI
Get New Skills
Today’s workplace values people with extra skills beyond standard training. Such individuals are indispensable to corporate bodies and companies. It is, therefore, no surprise that certain employers make their employees go through on-the-job training. As an entry-level person or student transitioning, you should have a thirst and hunger for acquiring new skills, especially those that can differentiate you in your industry.
Some of the skills you can acquire include blogging, website design, digital literacy and marketing, project management, etc. These skills will make you indispensable no matter what you studied in school. Such skills are skills which are in demand everywhere – in SMEs, large corporations and multinationals.
Don’t do yourself a disservice by just sticking to your job description, study your industry and stay ahead of the game. Learn the skills that will be relevant in the near future. Stay up to date with the fast pace at which various industries keep revolving and evolving, you don’t want to be left out. Acquire these skills as part of your personal development, giving it the passion and attention of everything you love to do. Also, seek ways to apply the skills in the learning process, it helps for you to pick up faster. This is a good place to start with some digital marketing knowledge: Learn Marketing Online.
The only skill that would remain relevant in the 21st century is the skill of learning new skills. Everything else will become obsolete over time.
Start Investing if You Aren’t Already
“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams“. As a young person beginning life and your career, the best thing you can do for yourself whilst your pay is small, is to invest your money. I wouldn’t say save because sometimes the interest on savings is very minimal. Invest your money into a venture that will ensure that you make enough returns on your money. If you don’t know anything about investing, this is the time to learn about it, talk to investors, read books, take courses online if it comes to that. Just ensure that you don’t relent in securing some leverage now to make life in the future easier.
For the unmarried who definitely want to marry, you can invest in the various packages available in insurance, plans, etc. Proper planning they say, prevents poor performance, so use the time you have now, devoid of the pressure and stress of older people to make provisions for a comfortable career and life. King Solomon couldn’t have put it any better when he said: “cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many days – Ecc 11:1″. The best time to start investing and securing a financially sound future is now. Financial instruments such as TBills, Fixed Deposits, Mutual Funds, etc are good places to start.
Check out this tutorial: INVESTING 101 FROM INVESTOPEDIA
Get Multiple Sources of Income
I haven’t yet met any employer who advises his employees to get multiple sources of income. Which means, there’s no way your employer would ask you to get multiple sources of income. The sea isn’t only big by itself, it’s big because of all the smaller rivers that deposit their water into it. You can be completely loyal and committed to your work and yet make extra income.
It could be as simple as teaching kids in your vicinity for a fee, renting out your speakers for small birthday parties, organising events, or perhaps sourcing Tom Brown from a local market woman to sell to nursing mothers in your office. Entrepreneurship isn’t only about leaving your job to become your own boss, it is basically finding solutions to the problems you notice around you. Make yourself a problem solver, take stock of your skills and see which of them can help you generate some more income.
If you feel working physically would be difficult, look online, check out freelance platforms like Upwork, Top Tal, People Per Hour, Simply Hired, Freelancer or create a Google alert for freelance jobs and get yourself some extra income. Work yourself out of the subsistence living mindset. We no longer dwell in the stone age, so wise up and do something. I recommend this sermon by Dr Mensa Otabil: Multiple Streams of Income.
There are a lot of factors that go into transitioning from student to full-time employee. If you’re fortunate enough to come across this article, you have no excuse to be an uninspired or visionless employee. Because the tools to a successful career all begin and ends with you. Be smart about your decisions!!
This article series is to help young graduates transition into the working world properly. If you haven’t read the first instalment, you can do so here. How To Transition From Student To Employee
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