Waking up as a student is completely different to waking up as an employee.
As a student, you can choose whether you want to go in late, or indeed at all. Even if you choose to go in, the chances of going to lectures, or paying attention to those lectures you do attend, are slim. Student life is a mixture of carefree living and having fun, plus a little touch of academics.
From the way you dress and talk to how you present yourself, there are no tough decisions to be made. Except, well, deciding whether or not you are going to student night on a Thursday, knowing that you have an assignment due the following day.
Fast-forward through the partying and late-night crash-studying sessions to actually getting your degree, to the real world. Life as you know it is about to change. Independence is a word that is going to be thrown around a lot. So, are you ready?
Entering the working world is a complete culture shift.
Gone are the days of waking up and putting on a pair of sweatpants just to get through a two-hour lecture. You have to put effort into the way you look. Yes, in some cases, like if you work at Flow, you might get lucky and the dress code might not be super formal, but in other places there will be a strict dress code. Shocking, really, that the famous line “I woke up like this” doesn’t cut it any more.
Mind your clothing
“Neat” and “presentable” are key words. Whether you deal with clients or are desk-bound, you are an ambassador for your organisation. Even if you’re not required to wear a suit and tie, that does not mean slip-slops are appropriate for work. Remember, the people you come into contact with form a perception of you, so why not make it a good one?
Forging relationships is everything in business, so don’t be seen as lazy – rather be Business Ken than Sweats Ken. Dress for the job you want, as you never know what opportunities lie ahead.
Manage your time
This may be the only similarity to college. Staying up late partying or even cramming for a test, however, now transforms into trying to meet the deadline. Waking up at 5am to be the first person at the office to try keep up with the workload is a reality. Working late or even over weekends is to be expected in some cases, as deadlines are not set around your life.
Even if you view yourself as career-driven, at some point you are going to burn out, so you need to balance your time. Time-management skills are vital in the corporate world as things are constantly thrown at you. Set a routine or system to help you manage your work demands.
Let’s talk money
We all like to assume that having a degree guarantees financial security. This might be the case if you have experience behind you. In most instances, you will earn more than the allowance you received back in college. So it is a start.
Once you have your foot in the door, you can start climbing the ladder of success and take advantage of opportunities that come your way. So do not decline a job because it does not meet your salary expectations. Take it, do the work and grow within the organisation.
Everything you do, or don’t do, goes back to your manager. If you make a mistake, own up before it becomes a crisis. There is no place to hide. In college, it’s possible to get away with the bare minimum, but in real life you are just setting the bar lower and inviting someone else to take your position.
Take responsibility for and pride in all that you do, whether it happened to be a project that flopped or a presentation that convinced a client to come on board. Own your work, as it allows for personal development and improvement. No one wants to worry about job security. Set the bar high, but make sure you can reach it.
Apply your knowledge
So, you have just got your degree, which entailed studying up to 50 different theories, none of which you can recall at will. Well, don’t stress – you’re unlikely to use them anyway. All the modules you waded through in college provided you with the knowledge to understand, but not necessarily to implement. College teaches the theory part, not how to put it into action.
The business world teaches you telephone etiquette, how to talk to media, present and deal with clients. These are all skills that you are going to use daily; the client does not want to know Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, but rather how to implement the steps to achieve self-actualisation. Every day in the office you will learn something new, whether it is in a staff meeting or through dealing with a client. These learning tools lay the foundation for future success in your career.
The journey into the corporate world is like taking a ride on a roller coaster: some days you are going to feel on top of the world; other days you will feel like you are hurtling to the ground at 120km/h.
The best advice I can possibly offer is: be prepared for anything. Tackle everything with confidence, even if you are unsure ... Inhale confidence, exhale doubt.