Throughout the history of human beings, what has been found is that humans had to work for earning their bread and butter. They were engaged in hunting and then, farming in order to meet their basic needs, especially food. By today, in this industrial era, the sources whereby one can find his living have been diversified unprecedentedly. Needs have changed and become complicated to be met. It is under these circumstances that everyone is forced willy-nilly to work. Today’s jobs, with limitless opportunities to grow, have gone beyond merely earning for basic needs.
Even if hundreds of school leavers and fresh graduates join the labour market on a daily basis in a small country like Sri Lanka where paper qualifications are highly appreciated and educational institutes including universities are considered to be theoretical, only a handful of them will succeed at the workplace. It has become easy to see school leavers going from place to place, saying that this is not the job suitable for me and my qualifications. This has caused some serious problems in the organisations and bad movements in the labour market as well.
For a person, first job means a new experience and real challenge which will transform an individual into a professional. To build a strong house, a solid foundation has to be laid. Similarly, you must know how to begin with the first job, so that you will take the lead in the organisation as quickly as possible.
When you are recruited to your first job, you are required to change your mentality from college to career. The first year of the new job is just like the first year you spent at university. In other words, during this transitional period, you have to acclimate to a new environment, new people and new rules with which your career life will be spent, paving the way for career progression and growth. Even though it is so, you are not expected to behave at the workplace, as if you did at collage.
What has to be kept in mind is that the organisational culture is totally different from university culture. Although you associate peers with similar opinions at university, you have to deal with colleagues with different opinions, skills and weaknesses, especially even with customers who can be considered the most important group of outsiders having an impact on your career and organisation’s success as well. Although it is true that a book should not be judged by its cover, people are used to do so. Hence, dressing to impress is immensely important for you to position yourself in the minds of colleagues. Furthermore, building a professional image strongly will open a window of opportunities and be easier to get things done in the future.
Moving from classmates to colleagues is a major transitional point that a fresher has to cross. People you associated with at school or university were classmates at your age and teachers or professors whose job is to teach you. The same can never be expected from your colleagues. They are at different age limits and have their own crosses to bear. Moreover, although there is an easily understandable and simple hierarchy at a college, the organisational hierarchy is so complicated that new hires might be required to report to manager, senior manager and even the chief executive officer on their assignments. Some new hires become easily confused about this complex hierarchy and might take some time to be familiar with. When these are taken into account, what ought to be emphasized is that a different approach has to be found out to deal with colleagues. A majority of new hires, who fail to understand this, will decide to leave the workplace.
Some senior colleagues that might have spent years at the office may discriminate and pressurize new hires that are of course struggling to be familiar with the culture. The responsibility lies on the hands of managers to prevent their old members from being hard on new hires and create a friendly environment. Researches have proved that newly recruited employees that have good technical knowledge and possibilities to grow leave companies mainly because of their inability to work with others.
What is normal is that new hires are less paid and expected to work hard. It means that they are not so experienced, despite paper qualifications. How you perform at the workplace will decide who you will be. Consequently, you must learn something from every employee, from the labourer to the CEO.
As a beginner, following a person or few persons as a role model is not a bad idea. By now, you might have numbers of role models in the field of education, sports and cinema, but rarely in the industry. It is very difficult for us to find an individual perfect. Consequently, having one role model will pave the way for a failure. What is recommended is that you should keep a group of role models that are experts in different spheres. Some are good at public speaking. Some have good technical knowledge. Hence, it is up to you to use that knowledge from that person and that skill from that person.
Even though you have to be energetic and knowledgeable to start something, you have to be more energetic and more knowledgeable to continue something that you have already started. Therefore, doing a regular audit on you to understand the gap which needs to be minimized should be a daily routine.
(Amila Muthukutti holds a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from the University of Colombo and can be reached at email@example.com)