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Graduate Advice
5 min read

Avoiding Common Mistakes In A First Job After Graduation

Saying goodbye to your student way of life after gaining your degree after several years of hard work and commitment can be difficult. Whether you are taking some time out for yourself, planning to go travelling or have already got some interviews lined up, sooner or later you will be starting your first full time job.
Written by
Joanna Clare
Content Manager
Published on
December 4, 2023

Saying goodbye to your student way of life after gaining your degree after several years of hard work and commitment can be difficult. Whether you are taking some time out for yourself, planning to go travelling or have already got some interviews lined up, sooner or later you will be starting your first full time job.

This is a really exciting and important milestone in your life but it is essential to start this new chapter with the right tools which will help to navigate you through the challenges that you may face at the beginning of your career and to help avoid any potential pitfalls.

Entering the job market for the first time is a whole different ball game from the structure of university and it will take some time getting used to a new way of doing things. The transition to a professional environment can be demanding so proritise your own well being during this time.

One of the most common errors that graduates may make is waiting for instructions and what to do next which is what you may be used to in years of study. Be proactive from the start and use your initiative to seek out tasks, demonstrate your enthusiasm to contribute and show your employer that you are able to take charge and be relied upon when needed. However, do not be afraid to seek help or guidance from managers and colleagues when you feel you need it.

Building a strong professional network of  relationships is essential for graduates as it can open doors to mentorship, create useful contacts and offer fantastic opportunities for the future of your career. Never isolate yourself. Make an effort to attend company events, engage with colleagues and connect on all available and appropriate professional platforms within your industry.

Constructive feedback is a tool for improvements and assists you with continuous learning as you strive to become established in your chosen career. If you are not used to constructive criticism, it can easily be interpreted personally, i.e. your work is not good enough but this is not the case at all. Everyone in every industry, no matter how much experience or how many qualifications they have, has the scope for improvement and the ability to learn from mistakes. Therefore, use constructive criticism to enhance your growing skills and performance. Embrace a growth mindset and demonstrate that you are open to learning.

Time management is a skill which is often underestimated by recent graduates. You must now adhere to a strict routine and prioritise tasks, meet deadlines and maintain stability with both the efficiency and the quality of your work. The demands of the professional world can be overwhelming at times but remain resilient and focused while you make any necessary adjustments to create a good work life balance.

As every workplace has a unique culture, you must make efforts which enable you to adapt by understanding and aligning with the principles and ethos of the organisation. Working against it or rebelling will inevitably be detrimental to your ongoing success.

Understand the importance of clear and concise communication. Whether it is written or verbal, make all communication effective. Stay attentive to others as miscommunication can lead to various misunderstandings and may affect relationships within the working environment.

You may feel as though you have worked so hard for your degree and that you can breathe a sigh of relief now all those years of study are over. Not so! Learning never stops! Make it a habit of staying updated on industry trends, attend relevant workshops and courses and pursue more qualifications. Investing in your professional development showcases ambition and dedication.

Teamwork is essential in many workplaces so embrace opportunities to collaborate and participate in team projects where you can share ideas and contribute to a more positive working environment.

Your first job sets the foundation stone for a successful and fulfilling career after graduation. Approach it with enthusiasm, a willingness to learn and with a firm commitment to continuous improvement.

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