How to ace your first year at work

 In Other, Student and Graduate Tips

Starting your first job after graduating can be daunting. After three or four years of intense study you will be an expert in your chosen subject but not in how to survive in the workplace. Regardless of how hard you worked at university, being in employment is totally different. You are unlikely to choose the hours you work, and you will probably be the youngest and least experienced person in the company. It will be an adjustment.

These are my tips on how to not only survive but to ace your first year at work.

1. Ask questions
Starting as a graduate you won’t know all the answers. That’s okay. Ask questions and if is still not clear, ask more. There is nothing worse than staring at the screen blankly, being unsure of what to do. Asking questions shows that you are engaged and that you want to learn. No one expects you to know everything on day one, week one or even in year one. Even if you think it’s a stupid question, my advice would be to ask it anyway.  

2. Go the extra mile
Employers want graduates who are happy and willing to work hard. Demonstrate that you are committed to the job and that you want to be there. You can do this in several ways, such as volunteering for extra responsibility, pitching in when your team is busy and using your initiative. Going the extra mile will get you noticed and respected by your bosses.

3. Don’t take it personally
I have always been the kind of person who takes things to heart. But at work sometimes people are going to disagree with you, they will question your methods and your results. It’s not malicious and it’s not a personal attack. In digital marketing, it is how we deliver the best possible results for our clients, we question everything. When you do get negative feedback, take a deep breath and listen. Learn from what didn’t work, so that you can do it better next time.

4. Be active
I found working in an office involved a lot of sitting and yet at the same time it was tiring. I would strongly urge you to find something active that you love doing outside the office and do it regularly. It could be running, swimming or Zumba. For me, it’s playing netball. Not only is exercise good for your physical wellbeing, it is great for your mental wellbeing. The endorphins you produce when you are active help reduce stress.

5. Get involved
After a full-on day in your new job, your instinct may be to head home and crash out in front of Netflix. That’s fine and a great way to decompress. However I would also recommend getting involved in company activities. There are many different ways to do this, such as helping out in a bake sale, arranging a pub quiz or starting a company book group. Spending time with your colleagues away from work issues and the pressure of deadlines will help you to get to know them better. Unless you are a freelancer, the chances are you will be working as part of a team. Knowing your team well, their likes, dislikes, and peeves can make working together a whole lot easier.

Starting your first role after graduating can be daunting, but the reality is unlikely to be as scary as you fear. Look for a company that is actively recruiting graduates and has an established training programme to help you learn and develop your skills.

By Gemma Farley, Senior Media Planning and Buying Executive at equimedia

After graduating from Cardiff University in 2014, Gemma joined equimedia’s Graduate Talent Programme, she is now a Senior Media Planning and Buying Executive in their media team.

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