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How graduates can prepare for working life this year

1 Oct 2021

Professionals from three major employers share their tips for today’s graduates.

Over the last couple of weeks, we’ve put the spotlight on graduates, gaining unique insights into what it’s like joining a company as part of a graduate programme.

We’ve also highlighted a number of companies that are looking for graduates and other early-stage talent.

But this is still a very unusual time to join the working world. Many this year’s graduates will have gone through a lot of their time at third-level online and while offices are slowly opening up again, some will still be starting their working life remotely.

With that in mind, we wanted to garner some advice for today’s graduates from those working in the tech industry, from graduate level up to a recruitment lead.

Before you start

Kathy Joyce leads the graduate recruitment team at PwC Ireland. She shared her top tips for graduates looking to take those first career steps, starting with doing your homework.

“Before you start to apply for different roles, do some research and see what’s out there. Different industries and sectors have had to adapt and pivot to a new way of working and this has led to some exciting changes in technology, culture and even recruitment for many different organisations,” she said.

“Another area to focus on is employability skills, for example, your technology skills, teamwork, communications and innovative thinking. Think about all the skills you have developed and built on over these past 18 months and how you can utilise them to succeed. Adaptability has never been more important and embracing change is vital for anyone entering the workforce over the coming year.”

She said when it comes to virtual interviews, it’s important to prepare as if it were a face-to-face interview.

“Once you join your organisation of choice, whether that be virtual or in the office, give yourself time to settle in. The best way to do this is to network, set up coffee meetings with colleagues, join a social hub your organisation provides and ask as many questions as you can and you’ll feel a lot more comfortable whether you are sitting at your desk, at home or in the office.”

Ask questions

Jeevan Harish is a data engineer who joined the Aon Centre for Innovation and Analytics in Dublin as part of its graduate programme.

He acknowledged how challenging it is for graduates who are starting their careers during a time when a lot of work is still remote.

“Without personal contact, they might think they are disturbing fellow colleagues by pinging them on messenger and asking them questions, and they might even think they are asking silly questions,” he said.

“My advice would be that there is no such thing as a silly question because one of the big learnings of any graduate programme is to ask questions of your fellow colleagues and clarify your doubts before you start any work.”

He also advised graduates to take care of their work-life balance. “If you want to prove yourself and end up working long hours at the beginning of your graduate programme without allowing yourself to rest, it will affect your overall productivity.”

Be confident

Robert Brown, an associate software engineer at Fidelity Investments, said graduates should also be confident in the knowledge they have gained as students.

“Starting a new job as graduate can sometimes carry a lot of pressure, thinking you need to know all the answers from day one. In reality, that’s really not the case. When it comes to technology, everyone is learning. You are not expected to have all of the answers. All that’s expected from you is an eagerness to learn and have the confidence to put yourself out there and ask questions,” he said.

“One thing that’s going to really stunt the progress of your career, especially now that we are working from home each day, is sitting on a problem you have and going around in circles with it. This is only going to lead to frustration and maybe even make you doubt yourself. If you’re stuck on a problem and you’ve tried to fix it, then reach out and ask for help.”

Jenny Darmody
By Jenny Darmody

Jenny Darmody became the editor of Silicon Republic in 2023, having worked as the deputy editor since February 2020. 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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