Entering the workforce after graduation
WITH SHANYN CHUNG
A VOLUNTEER WITH THE SOCIETY FOR HUMAN RESOURCE MANAGEMENT (SHRM) HAWAII CHAPTER, AND WORKFORCE PLANNING COORDINATOR WITH HAWAII PACIFIC HEALTH
You’ve finally got a college degree in your hands and you’ve landed your first job — congratulations! No more tests to take or papers to write, and homework is non-existent. Life couldn’t get better. That is, until you realize that you’re about to make the transition from student life to the professional, “adulting” life. Everyone faces different challenges, but there are some things that you can do to help make the transition easier.
Q: What student life skills translate into the workforce?
A: There are a few key skills that you hopefully learned in school that will help you in your professional life. The first is time management. You’ll need to learn to manage your work schedule while remaining flexible to accommodate last-minute meetings or urgent things that come up during the work day. Know how to prioritize your work so that you are able to accomplish all of your tasks on time. Most jobs require you to work with others and teamwork is the second skill that’ll help you in your first job. Knowing how to work with your colleagues in a professional manner will be vital to your success. Lastly is your ability to take initiative. If you see an opportunity for a process to be improved or a problem that you think you may be able to solve, speak up and ask. Show that you are making an effort to go beyond what was asked of you.
Q: What can I do to set myself up for success?
A: In order to be successful, you first need to understand what is expected of you. Know what your role and responsibilities are and understand how feedback is given. When you are learning new processes, be engaged in the training and take notes, and never be afraid to ask questions. If you find yourself struggling, ask for help early on. You might also try asking your colleagues how they organize their work and see what works for them. Focus on performing to the best of your ability and remember that success doesn’t occur overnight. Remember to be patient and set realistic goals for you and your career progression.
Q: How will understanding my company’s culture help in my transition?
A: Taking the time to observe your company’s culture will help you to determine what things are acceptable and what things are not. For example, listen to how your colleagues talk to each other. Are they more formal or more casual? Do they rely heavily on email to communicate with each other? Or do they prefer to speak in-person or over the phone? Making these observations will help you adjust to your new workplace.