Life doesn’t always announce the challenges ahead, you need to always be ready to handle the difficulties that life brings.
Every year, thousands of graduates in Ghana migrate from being students to employees. This usually happens at least within the first year of coming out of the university, largely because of national service (a story on its own). Fortunately, or unfortunately, most undergraduates come out of school unprepared for the working world, most of them come in with their limited experience of being interns. It’s true that national service sometimes is like a prolonged internship/attachment (as we’re used to in Ghana), but the reality on the ground is that, after the one year, you are actually going to transition into the corporate world or working world. It is thus important that during this transition period in your life, you make yourself open to opportunities that will make you stand out as an individual who wants to get employed or wants to employ himself.
Usually, there’s little to none in terms of preparing a young graduate for the job market or becoming an employee in our part of the world. However, it is very important that this is done, if not by a third-party, at least as an individual, you should make up your mind to prepare yourself for the journey ahead. For the next few weeks I’ll be covering how you can learn to adjust to this new arrangement and some of the challenges you might encounter in the process. Business insider has compiled a couple of great graduation day speeches that you can check out here:
For today, I would want to briefly tackle some of the things you should be aware of before, during and after the transition.
- Workplace Is Different From School: It can be deceptive to think of the workplace as school just because in school you were doing 8-5 shifts of lectures. The reality on the grounds is that, in as much as there may be similarities between both worlds, they are stark different. The kind of people you meet come with different baggage, the kind of work you do differs from your coursework, your dressing could change, even your mannerisms and personal beliefs have the tendency to change. In school, you received your certificates based on how much of what you were taught you could regurgitate. In a rumination process code-named “exam”. It will shock you to realise that for the first few months, about 70% of all you learned in school doesn’t even dare rear its head. The metrics for measuring performance at the workplace are as different as Earth is from Mars, Pluto or Jupiter. The survival hacks and instincts are different from what you were used to. You’ll meet co-workers, bosses and the like who don’t hold anything against you personally, but you’ll feel as though they do, with the way they will always poke holes into your work. You have to learn to be ready for all of these. Prepare yourself mentally, emotionally, physically, spiritually, socially and all the other “llys” you can think of. It would do you a world of good. There’s an article here that adds a little flesh to this point, check it out here: From Student to Employee: How Work is Different From School
- Ignorance is No Excuse: For most graduates, you assume that since you are “service personnel” there would be some work that you would be exempted from or some grace bestowed on you because you are a “rookie”. It’ll amaze you to find out that, it’s not always the case everywhere. The truth is that your job description and the kind of roles you find yourself laden with depends on the kind of workplace you find yourself in, but most times you will be expected to perform tasks that school or internships (if you had any) didn’t prepare you for and hence you would need to pick up as quickly as a cheetah that has spotted a prey. Seeing that sometimes the possibility of you being retained in the company you find yourself in depends on your performance during the period, there’s the need for you to tighten your belt and get your eagle eyes on: so as to catch everything and pick up as quickly as possible. Don’t delight yourself in your ignorance and expect everyone to let you be because you are “Johnny Just Come” and know nothing. You risk being taken for granted and disrespected if you approach it like that. I get that you are scared you might be given work beyond your understanding and end up messing up but don’t let that be a basis to belittle yourself. Exercise just a little bit of assertiveness and you’d realise that you’ll pick up faster than you expected.
You Are Responsible For All That Happens To You: Shocker huh? Did you think your boss or the government would be responsible for what your life turns out to be? Having been a student all your life, you might be under the erroneous impression that there will be this killer “midsem” or “End of Sem” exam that will immediately jolt you to your senses so as to sit up and get your best grove on. Well, sorry to burst your bubble, but that definitely doesn’t happen in the workplace. Everyone is too busy trying to keep their head above all the pressures and workload to pay much attention to you. If they are not under pressure from the workload, then they are busy trying to keep their job so newbies like you don’t learn so much and replace them. They will get time to roast you or indulge in small talk about you when you get in trouble, but don’t depend on any of them to help you become better, you are so on your own. In some rare cases, you might get bosses or supervisors or even your own colleagues that will prompt you to step up your game (provided those colleagues themselves have got their A game on), but usually, no one would prompt you when your attitude is hitting the roof or your work sucks. Without self-awareness and a readiness to be your best self by the time you leave the place, you might as well say goodbye to any professional growth during that one year season. So keep your antenna alert, so you can catch the channels of personal and professional development that exist in the atmosphere in and around your office.
These are just a few of the things that will hit you sometime after you’ve started “work”. To be forewarned is to be forearmed. Don’t take this as another blog post and just read for pleasure, let it start shaping the way you think about issues and begin making adjustments as soon as possible so that you can escape some of the shocks your predecessors experienced. Smart people learn from others’ mistakes. So look sharp and be smart!
I would continue with this topic in the weeks to come, with the sole purpose of helping you prepare for the journey ahead. Stay tuned. Subscribe to the blog by clicking on the Follow button, so you don’t miss out on all the awesome updates. See you next time!!
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