What you didn’t learn at college
Translated by Elisavet Kechagia
Let’s set the tone; you have just graduated from college, degree in hand. If you are lucky, it will only take a little while before you are employed by a company, or an organization of some sort. It might be an office job, but that does not affect your confidence and energy levels. And then it happens. Something is not quite right. What changed? It cannot be that college did not equip you with everything you need to start your professional life..or could it? Thing is, what college provides you with is knowledge and not professional experience. Let’s find out together what is the difference between the two, and what is it exactly that college neglected to provide you with.
The human factor
The office is a replica of society, with its own hierarchies and interpersonal relationships. There is your employer, your supervisor and your coworkers. It goes without saying that you cannot address all of them in the same way, nor appear opinionated. This may have been your college reality, but that is not the case at work, and you will need to find your way around the office maze alone. Stay level headed and polite even if someone is downright wrong, and keep in mind that you need to earn the favor even of a person you dislike. Collaboration is the be-all and cannot be eluded. Forget about college and your college agenda: you are an employee now and your livelihood depends on professional relationships.
In college, the sole hierarchy model you were familiar with was the student-professor prototype, with the latter actually addressing you as their colleagues. Not that intimidating, right? However, in the office things get serious; you have to deal with your employer to whom you are financially and professionally tied, since they are your only means of climbing the ladder. Even though they could may well be difficult to deal with and not particularly easy going, they are undoubtedly going to ask for personal favors with only their appreciation in return. Keep in mind that unlike the professor-student paradigm, you are not equals. They are your superiors and you need to learn how to set viable boundaries so as not to jeopardize the relationship, and win them over. In order to do this, you should incorporate the following keywords in your life: discretion and politeness.
In every company, each and every action you take has consequences. Whatever project you are entrusted with, it should be at the company’s best financial interest, and by extension your own. Thus, every failure has a direct impact on the company, meaning that your performance plays critical role on whether you stay, get fired, or promoted. There is a lot at stake since, unlike college where a failed course can be retaken, at work your chances are restricted which can significantly burden your psyche, leading to high levels of anxiety and stress. You should learn to not crack under pressure, meet deadlines and espouse a responsible attitude through means of an organized schedule, and never losing track of the gravity of the role you play in the company.
Set your Goals after college
Time passed at a company should not be time wasted: during your stay you need to set goals. At college, all that mattered was simply passing the course, no flying colors required. Your professional environment though, does require a change of mindset. You are obliged to work to the fullest, and leave the best of impressions. That is the only way of ensuring not only your stay at the company, but advancing to the top which should be your number one priority.
Of course there exists a number of other dexterities and work conditions for which college has not adequately equipped you. But rest assured: all that is required is a touch of experience, and patience can get you a long way, turning you into a true veteran that has been battle tested by employers and coworkers alike.
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