There have been several things that have surprised both myself and my friends as we ventured into the world of work. A lot of these things are out of your control, so just rest safe in the knowledge that they’ve happened to people before you, and will almost definitely improve as you progress in your career.
1. You might not have a lot of work to do. After the intense workload of school or university, this can feel so odd. I know a lot of people including myself, who get extremely frustrated when they feel that they’re not being as productive as they could be. My advice is; hang on in there! The work load will come, so you might as well enjoy the quiet times whilst you can.
2. You might be assigned to work on an assignment that you have no prior knowledge of. It’s hard, especially if you studied a specific subject at university, hoping to go on an work in that field. Unfortunately, you just have to crack on. Advice given to my year by our Head of Department the day we left university has really stuck with me. He told us we had to be resilient and adaptable, and that was such a valuable thing to be told. You’ll never progress in your career if you refuse to work on projects outside of your field of knowledge.
3. You might have abrasive colleagues. I definitely thought that once I left school, I would no longer be surrounded by people who like arguing and causing trouble. From what I hear from my friends, that’s just not true. Apparently the way forward is to be civil to everyone, and not to get involved in workplace gossip. Makes sense, really.
4. You’re assignment brief may change halfway through, and with no apology. I can’t imagine how annoying this must be; it happened to me once when I was at University, and there was absolute uproar. I hear that it can happen a fair bit in the workplace too.
5. You might be really unhappy. I’ve seen this happen firsthand, and it was really sad because my friend had worked so hard to get into a well-known company, but things didn’t turn out as they had expected. If this happens to you, it might be good to stick it out for a month and see if things improve. If they don’t, try to talk to a superior. They are extremely busy people, and because of this, may have no idea that you’re unhappy. However, in most cases, once they know something is wrong, they’ll do what they can to help, and happily.
6. You may not be given much guidance. I think this is a particularly difficult thing to get used to – even at university, you are given a brief explaining what is expected of you. More often than not, new employees are given mentors, but in reality, these people are so busy that they may not have time to teach you, or even meet with you at all. It’s always worth asking if you’re not sure what to do.
I realise this all seems pretty negative, but it goes without saying that there are so many good things too. I just wanted to share these six points, as I hope that they may go some way to preparing you for the reality of your first job. Thanks for reading!