Fighting those first job jitters

  • Education
  • Sunday, 26 Nov 2006

You’ve got the job! You made it through all the interviews and your foot is firmly on that first rung on the career ladder. What's next? MASTURA DIANA JAFFAR shows you what you need to make the transition from studies to the corporate world

THE first step to making a smooth transition into your new role is to observe how the people around you work and interact. Every organisation has its own unique culture and the workplace requires a difference set of skills than university.  

By taking the time to observe how others operate, you will have an understanding of how things work in your new environment and be able to make a great impression.  

Once in your position, determine what you need to know to get up to speed.  

Take advantage of any onboarding programmes run by your organisation.  

Build relationships with co-workers and determine who you can rely on, and what part everyone plays in the organisation.  

Never underestimate how important building those relationships is to your success.  

By building relationships with colleagues who have been around longer than you, you will feel comfortable asking them those difficult questions and advice about how they have dealt with situations in the past.  

As you learn more, ask for feedback from people around you, especially your manager. It is never too early to learn the skill of “managing upwards.”  

Put simply, this means keeping a good flow of communication open with your manager, asking for feedback, and keeping them informed of your progress on tasks.  

A classic mistake many people make is to work themselves into the ground believing that this is the best way to impress. In reality, you will make a better impression by working smart, rather than hard.  

When you’re starting out, you may have the urge to impress your boss by doing work from home or staying back late into the night to get things done, but this can have a negative outcome.  

By doing this you may make a good impression in the short term but you are also raising your manager’s expectations with what you can reasonably achieve.  

A great skill, and an easy one to develop, is to approach your manager with solutions rather than problems.  

When you need to go to your manager with a challenge you’re facing, get into the habit of always having a solution in mind.  

By requesting their approval on a solution, you not only respect their authority and involve them in the decision but also make their job easier while showing your initiative.  

Another thing that will help you to get ahead is to find yourself a mentor.  

Many companies are now initiating mentoring programmes for their staff, but if your organisation doesn’t run a mentoring programme, don’t be afraid to request mentoring support or make the suggestion.  

If your company is unable to help you, do not despair.  

Finding a mentor on your own will maximise your chances of finding the best person for the job!  

Consider what you are looking for in a mentor and then approach the person of your choice.  

This may be a little daunting, but your chosen person is likely to be flattered and unlikely to knock you back.  

The rewards of a mentoring relationship are invaluable when you’re just finding your feet in a new career.  

You will always have an experienced sounding board to assist you with problems and celebrate your achievements. No matter how small the challenge, your mentor will usually have experienced something similar before you, and will be familiar with the trials and tribulations you experience on a day-to-day basis.  

Finally, don’t put too much pressure on yourself.  

The transition from studies to a career is exciting and challenging, but everyone makes mistakes along the way.  

You don’t need to be perfect to be successful, but you do need initiative, a willingness to learn and a desire to achieve.  

  • The writer is managing director of DBM Malaysia, a global human capital management firm providing transition services to private and public companies, not-for-profit organisations and governments. 

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