A mini graduate cap sits atop a pencil in a jar full of other stationary against whiteboard with equations written on it.
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What do you wish you knew as a new graduate?

30 Aug 2018

What’s the one thing you wish you could tell yourself as a new graduate?

As we approach the end of August, Siliconrepublic.com’s month-long focus on graduates is also drawing to a close.

Aside from the countless graduate profiles, expert advice and helpful tips we shared throughout the month, one caveat kept cropping up, especially with our more senior contributors. They often mentioned there were things they wish they knew when they were a new graduate.

With this in mind, we decided to put the question out there to find out what others wish they could have known, in the hope of guiding those coming up the ladder behind them.

PwC’s Katie O’Riordan said she wishes she didn’t put much pressure on herself about her career path. “The majority of people generally have no clue of what they want to do after college,” she said. “Focus on what you’re good at or what you have an interest in and go from there.”

Stephanie Finn, an associate software engineer at Mastercard, said she wishes she had known she’s not supposed to have all the answers as a graduate. “Just because you have moved from the lecture hall to the office doesn’t mean the learning will stop. If you need help, all you have to do is ask.”

While eShopWorld’s Julie Bohan didn’t have a clear path of progression leaving college, she wishes she didn’t panic so much. “The right position will come along and sometimes you fall into a role you didn’t even know existed before.”

While many people wish they knew not to worry and panic so much, Jen Andreasson from Accenture added that you’re never too far down the rabbit hole to change role. “I wish I had known that it’s OK to try different things and take chances,” she said. “There’s no need to stress about having the long-term plan all worked out straight after graduation.”

Speaking of different careers, Emily Perkins, a creative content manager at OggaDoon, said she wishes she knew that the tech world didn’t just need engineers. “Without creatives, administrators, sales teams, business development leads, no tech company would ever be able to lift off the ground.”

‘You are fresh out of college, you will have energy and new ideas to burn. Use it to your advantage’

Globoforce’s Robyn Murphy said she wishes she knew not to take the first job offer that came her way, and advises other graduates to do the same. “Take time to research different companies and find which company you think has the best development or progression path and culture for you.”

Aside from general panic, graduates can often feel afraid to break things. Fidelity Investments’ Lisa Lin said she wishes she knew it was OK to make mistakes. “Not everything will be perfect on the first try, or the second. Don’t be afraid if something does go wrong – ask for help and try again.”

It’s important for graduates to know it’s OK not to have all the answers. Despite this, Deloitte human capital analyst Luke Adams said it’s still important that you bring your ideas to the table. “You are fresh out of college, you will have energy and new ideas to burn. Use it to your advantage.”

However, he also wishes he knew the value of asking for help. “I can’t recount how many days I’ve spent contemplating an idea or trying to solve an issue, only to find that if I had reached out to a team member for five minutes, it would have bettered my idea or saved me hours.”

Have you spotted a pattern yet? Graduates today shouldn’t feel the pressure to know all the answers or have their life plan figured out.

In fact, Kirsty Tobin of Changing Ireland (and formerly Siliconrepublic.com) wishes she knew that “knowing what you want to do, being good at what you want to do and actually getting the chance to do what you want to do are often three very different things that rarely overlap – at least not all at the same time”.

She added: “It can be dejecting, but you can’t give up.”

Jenny Darmody
By Jenny Darmody

Jenny Darmody became the deputy editor of Silicon Republic in 2020, having worked as the careers editor until June 2019. When she’s not writing about the science and tech industry, she’s writing short stories and attempting novels. She continuously buys more books than she can read in a lifetime and pretty stationery is her kryptonite. She also believes seagulls to be the root of all evil and her baking is the stuff of legends.

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