For many young professionals, the world of work came by chance and not necessarily by preparation. Unfortunately, many of them did not get career advice or counselling before starting their career journey and were not adequately equipped with the skills to be outstanding in their chosen career path. It has taken most graduates a lot of difficult moments adjusting in the first few years of their career.
The phrase “if I had known…” rings through many and almost every conversation you have with most young professionals about their careers.
We have outlined six mistakes graduates are likely to make when they transition from college to the world of work. These points should guide you in order not to miss out on great future opportunities because of some of these mistakes.
• Money over Experience: Early career development is all about learning and getting the experience that will help you move to the next level on your career ladder. Unfortunately, most recent graduates prefer to use this early stage to look for jobs that will make them rich overnight. It is definitely good to have a well-paying job, but you will make a huge mistake if you let go of an opportunity that will give you some rich experience, solely because of low salary. As recent graduates you need a lot of opportunities to develop yourself – allow yourself to go through the tough mill for a future where you will be sought after globally.
• Sense of entitlement: Hi Millennials!! – don’t we think the world owes us the moon?
Isn’t it funny how most millennials want things given or done for them without working for it? Entitled to everything but responsible for nothing! ?
With this attitude, it is very difficult for most young people to serve or learn in the early stage of their careers. Most graduates transitioning to the working environment tend to have some ‘I deserve some special treatment’ attitude, especially individuals with very high graduating GPAs and coming from Ivy league/top schools. No one owes you anything – Be proactive and responsible! Take on the little and seemingly demeaning tasks assigned to you in the workplace. You may learn a thing or two from doing them.
• Taking part in negative office politics: Office politics can be very toxic – Many have ruined their careers because they were involved in this inevitable canker. Gossiping, forming/joining cliques, sabotaging, etc. are all examples of behaviours that can have a bad reputation on an individual. As a ‘new born baby’ in the world of work, you will be tempted to do anything to fit in and also to seek favor from superiors. Indulging in negative behaviors just to secure your spot in the company for example, is one big mistake you must avoid in your early career journey.
• Using working hours for your personal engagements: Are we all not guilty? Social media is so addictive that we are not able to stay off it for even seconds. In recent times, most employers have been monitoring employees’ productivity by checking how much time is spent on social media during working hours for non-work-related reasons. In your early career journey, remember a lot of people will be watching you without your knowledge. People don’t get to the peak of the career ladder because of acts such as this. Keep your work tasks a priority while at work!
• Not paying attention to detail: At this stage in your career, you cannot afford to miss out on important details. I am aware of quite a number of people who lost their jobs or were not considered for promotion because of the little attention they paid to information. As you begin your career, make sure you don’t fall to the temptation of skim reading documents. Read and triple check any document which you will be presenting or which has been presented to you as it will save you a lot of headache.
• Not going the extra mile with tasks assigned to you: Believe it or not, you will be evaluated for going the extra mile and not only with the tasks given to you. Go beyond your job description and volunteer to help with projects that might directly not be your responsibility. Successful people are those who serve, learn, and gather all the experiences needed for their next big take off.
It will be great to see most of our young graduates making headway in any career path they choose. With the above DO NOTS, I believe mistakes made by our predecessors will not be repeated.
The most crucial part of your career is about the first three to five years of your working life, hence you must safe guard these years very well and make the most out of it.
Written by Akua Ampah (2017)