4 Steps to Success from Campus to Career

5 03 2013

StepsToSuccess-300x250Guest post by Sumeet Dhillon

You have recently graduated from university and have landed your dream job in a large organization. You are excited and motivated, but the learning curve is steep. Easy electives, long break between classes, and submitting assignments just before the deadline are things of the past. Now it’s all about stakeholder management, slide packs, risks & issues, and critical path.

You never had to run a conference call in school or think about whether a deliverable’s status is currently “amber” or “red”, or even create a pivot table. You might be thinking on how much school has really prepared you for professional life.

You are not alone. I was in the same situation not too long ago but, thanks to the guidance of my nurturing managers and dynamic mentors, I was able to make a smoother transition in the real world. To pay their favors forward, I am sharing four easy tips in this post with the hope that it helps recent graduates succeed professionally.

1. Understand your organization:

It is useful for new hires to not just understand their individual role within the team, but also the role of the team within the group, and the role of the group within the whole firm. It is important to see how the different teams fit together in a large organization. Try to find the answer to the question – what is the impact to the firm if our department ceases to exist for a few days? Knowing how your team fits in with rest of the company will help you appreciate your role and understand your assignments better.

2. Identify resources available to you and use them:

Companies invest a lot in people development and provide many training resources that can be easily accessed by all employees. Most companies will have a “university” section on the intranet with online courses relevant to your role and industry. Identify these resources and take a couple of hours every week to learn something new and relevant. If workload does not permit doing this during office hours, get to the office an hour early once a week for this learning.

3. Ask questions:

You are guaranteed to be bombarded with acronyms and office jargon at work. At first, it might be intimidating for some recent graduates to ask questions to their management, as they don’t want to appear difficult. There is nothing to fear. If there is a concept that you don’t understand, just ask. In most cases your team will be happy to help as you are all working together on a common deliverable.

4. Find a mentor:

Soon after you join a team, you will start noticing and admiring the work ethics and styles of certain individuals. If you do find somebody who seems like an appropriate role-model, make them your mentor and arrange a few lunches with them. You can learn about their experiences and goals and they can even guide you on how you can achieve yours. It is great to have somebody to have open and honest discussions with. It is at one of these informal mentor conversations that I learnt that I often said “anyways” instead of “anyway” and almost all of my sentences started with the word “basically”. Making these minor adjustments in my speech was easy, but I would have never known about it had I not taken the initiative to find a mentor.

To conclude, the transition from student life to working life can be challenging but doing some simple things like the ones mentioned in this post can really make a difference. Keep learning, be proactive, work hard and you will make the transition from a “rookie” to a “subject matter expert” in no time. Good luck!

About the author: Sumeet Dhillon is a Change Management consultant who has conducted several entry-level interviews in previous roles. He has worked in the financial services industry across United Kingdom, Switzerland and United States. He also has a keen interest in technology, sports, watches, travelling, blogging and building iPhone applications. You can reach him at @SumeetSDhillon

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