Before you start
On your marks, get set... but before we shout ‘go’ there is work to be done. You’ve secured your first graduate job (congratulations) and the countdown is on, so what could you do now to help you feel prepared as you approach the start line?
Ideas to help you feel prepared
Refresh your memory
When you first applied for the job you will have researched the organisation so you’ve probably already covered off basic questions like what is the organisation’s purpose, how do they operate, and what 'hot topics' are currently trending within the sector?
Now is the time to refresh your memory and build further knowledge. Turn your attention to the department that you’ll work in and look for more detail. Try to gather intelligence about their current strategy, recent activity, or projects, and work out who’s who.
Armed with this information you’re less likely to fall into the trap of asking obvious questions, and instead, you’ll be well positioned to make thoughtful observations.
I work in investment banking, and for me I'm always impressed with new analysts who are aware of what's been happening in the market, having done their research and keeping up to date with news prior to starting.
It's also a great starting point to ask questions and build rapport with people by getting their views on a particular topic.
Aisha Natamkar, UoN alumna, Economics, 2015
Connect with colleagues
Why wait until day one to get to know people? Drop your new manager a line to reiterate how excited you are to be joining their team and ask if there is anything that they would like you to do before you start.
You can use LinkedIn to start connecting with your new colleagues. Think back to when you were interviewed, perhaps you met people who already work for the organisation, or maybe you may know of other graduates who will be joining the organisation at the same time as you. Send personalised connection requests to these people to get the ball rolling. Initiating these relationships now is likely to help you to feel more confident when you start.
If you’ve been told the names of people in your graduate intake it could be good to try and connect with them and share any information or concerns you have before starting your job. That way you’ll feel like you’re not in this alone.
Laura Ascione, UoN alumna, MSc Marketing, 2017
Prepare for early interactions
With any luck, conversations with your new colleagues will flow, but it’s always good to be prepared and have some ‘go to’ content lined up.
Give some thought to how you might introduce yourself. Besides the obvious ‘hello, my name is...’ you could also include what you studied at university, what sparked your interest in this area of work, or what you’re keen to learn more about. Adding detail may lead you to finding common ground or encourage others to share a little about themselves in return.
Once you’re beyond introductions, having some open questions and general topics of discussion in mind can also really help. You could start by asking about their role and how you might work together.
Take some time out
Finishing one thing (like university) and very quickly moving on to another (like your graduate job) doesn’t allow much time for rest or reflection, so if possible, you might want to consider taking a short break between the two.
This buffer may provide an opportunity for you to look back at everything you have learned and achieved at university and think forward to what’s up next and how you want to approach it. Plus, starting any new job is tiring, so getting some rest in beforehand is a good idea.
Get your house in order
Try to tick any personal errands off your ‘to do’ list before you begin your new job. Ideally you don’t want to have to ask for time off as soon as you start. So, if you’re due for a dental checkup, your car needs servicing soon, or you need to order anything that will require you to wait in for, get it done now.
Hopefully this will not only offer a small sense of achievement, but it will also allow you to focus purely on your new role when the time comes and reduce the potential for any additional stresses.
More tips and advice from UoN alumni
Refine some practical skills. After all the theoretical sessions at university, you mind find it useful to take an Excel or PowerPoint crash course to learn all the shortcuts (Udemy, LinkedIn Learning and edX have great courses).
They can be really useful in getting your job done better and faster, while also impressing your manager, who might even learn a couple of tricks from you.
Janka Reke, UoN alumna, BA Management with French, 2017
If possible, arrange a visit to your place of work, whether that's a site, office or factory. This will give you some confidence and familiarity when you start on your first day and it won't be such a daunting experience.
Paramvir Dhanda, UoN alumna, MEng Chemical Engineering, 2017