Shocked female graduate dressed professionally, looking at her phone, learning about what they didn’t tell her in college.
Image: ESB Professional/Shutterstock

What they didn’t tell you in college about the world of work

23 Aug 2018

Do you feel prepared to walk into the world of work? Cheryl Cran shares what they didn’t teach you in college with today’s graduates.

Graduating college or university is a major accomplishment – congrats! You have worked long and hard to get to this milestone towards your future.

You already know that the world of work is rapidly transforming and is going to continue to change. Global politics, technology innovation, health innovation and other influences will continue to shift and change our world as we know it.

The exciting part is that, as a graduate, you get to be a part of creating the new world of work and you can have a major impact on making the world a better place through your work.

It’s likely that you will have multiple jobs in your lifetime and, based on research, could choose to freelance or do multiple projects rather than work for a single or more companies.

You may know all of that already, but here are a few things that you may not have been told about the real world of work. You should keep these in mind as a graduate who is going for your dream job and designing your future of work.

A breath of fresh air

As a graduate, your idealism and your enthusiasm will be a much-needed breath of fresh air for many organisations.

However, keep in mind that for traditional organisations, there are people there who have spent varying amounts of time on their jobs. Keep an open perspective that not everyone will see things through your keen eyes.

Be the leader of the changes you would like and make sure you are careful not to denigrate the past or what has been done. Rather, honour the past and offer to provide ideas that can build on success and create more future success.

People skills

Your college or university may not have provided one of the most important aspects of work skills, which is ‘human skills’ or ‘people skills’.

The ability to communicate in all forms, to handle conflict and to engage teams will be a major skillset as you create your future of work.

In the words of Maya Angelou: “People may not remember what you said but they will always remember the way you made them feel.” Be someone who cares about people, who wants to help people, and who is willing to be a committed and accountable team player.

Not all rosy in the garden

Don’t be discouraged if your job doesn’t play out the way you planned it – a lot of companies will sell you on their strong points and very few are open about their pain points. In your job interviews, you can ask about the challenges of the culture and see what they say.

Like anything new, the first six months are going to feel like a dream come true, and that’s great. But at some point within the first year, you will feel that the ‘honeymoon is over’. Be prepared to feel this way, know that it’s normal and plan to find ways to stay enthused.

Allies are important

The workplace, whether we like it or not, can be political, and the best tactic is to create connections with people that you can help and that are helpful to you.

Not everyone will like you, but that’s OK. Avoid gossip, avoid creating power struggles, and strive to be someone that is reliable and respected.

Be patient and understanding

Some companies will have all the tech tools you could dream of, and that’s great.

There will be some companies in transition between legacy systems and moving to cloud-based solutions. Be patient with this process and use your smarts to help move the tech innovation forward.

You may be frustrated by the speed of progress within some companies. Communicate often and openly with your leader and teams about creating the future with timelines and check points so you can stay engaged while the speed may not match your own.

Keep learning

As a graduate, your degree is only the beginning of your lifelong learning journey. Commit to always learning, don’t assume you already know everything, and take advantage of your company training programme.

Also, be willing to invest in your own growth in order to create your successful future. You have many opportunities, and that’s exciting. Having an informed and realistic view of the current world of work will help you create major success now and in the future.

By Cheryl Cran

Cheryl Cran is a future-of-work expert and author of The Art of Change Leadership: Driving Transformation in a Fast-Paced World.

Loading now, one moment please! Loading