This is exactly where most of us go wrong. The adaptation part I meant. Bungee-jumping into the corporate world without prior and proper homework is like the most innovative self-killing method ever invented.
College binds students with academic assignments and tasks which can be solved by copybook methods or by sharing notes among friends. But not in Corporate world. Late night studies don’t yield the same GPAs or equivalents, sharing notes don’t help as much as it always used to.
So, way out? What should be on the checklist of a student about to jump the corporate bandwagon just after finishing college?
Here’s the deal. We will provide you with a six point solution to all your worries and you can thank us later.
1. Expectations Management: – This is one part that almost everyone gets wrong and burns his/her hands with. Ever wondered while you slog it out day and night in office, your work is not being recognized, let alone be rewarded. What could possibly be wrong? We let you in the BIGGEST secret of a successful corporate career. Consider this; say a particular task would normally take 4 days; you being super enthusiastic promised your manager that it would get done in 2 days and delivered it on day 3. The Smart Alec next cubicle negotiated and promised his manager to get this done in 6 days and delivered on day 5. While theoretically you did the job 2 days faster than Smart Alec who do you think would win the praise from the boss.
You guessed it right – Smart Alec. Remember he delivered the task a day before what he had promised and you delivered it one day after the date you had committed and hence your manager’s expectations were not met. This delay beyond expectations may have also impacted downstream activities. Remember, Negotiation and Ability to say No are critical skills that you need in order to do a good job of expectation management.
2. Work-life balance: -So far life was all about well, life. College was mostly fun with occasional work (read quizzes and exams) related distractions. Enter corporate life, and given how competitive all of us are, the work takes the front seat and everything else goes on back burner. The time that you could spend pursuing your hobby (singing, guitar, weekend travels, sketching, social work) or with your family is spent toiling in office because that seems the only way forward. Before you know you have developed a paunch, struggle climbing stairs up, don’t know when was last you met friends and family, or went to this musical show you never used to miss. Do NOT fall into the trap.
Remember its not studying for a quiz or one assignment submission any more where one night slogging is justified; this is how you would spend REST of your life. Value your weekends, maintain a disciplined schedule (there is a reason 9 to 5 came in existence) and ensure there is life outside work as well. We work to live and not live to work. This may sound a rebellious advice, but its NOT. Taking time off for yourself would help you become more productive in the hours that you spend in office and hence its a win win- numerous studies have proven that.
3. Soft skills! Sigh!: – Soft Skill. How apt name for something which you either are born with, or are fed by the grumpy Placement Officer of your college, or you never get to manage the head and tail of in your entire life. Once you join the corporate world, you will realize that being able to communicate well with your colleagues, seniors and bosses at job means much more to you than anything else. A job is where you spend almost half of your life, if not more. And most of the fun, frolic, friendships during the entire tenure builds up due to the reasons like how approachable you are, how articulately you can gather your thoughts and present in front of others, and how well you can make others feel at ease in your company. Keep the following in mind:
a) Follow discipline. Most corporate offices have their individual policies regarding the same.
b) Be a team player – you should be able to work collaboratively across teams
c) Plan well and to the last level of details – Be it time management, work-division planning, or even planning an after-work cubicle-party.
d) Multitasking and problem solving abilities – Hope you know how important these two are for a working executive. Wait, or even for a student.
e) Also, flexibility, creativity, patience, self-motivating powers help.
4. Time Management Skills: -The corporate world lets you unearth the various skills you never knew you had. Time management is one such important part of having a white collar job. If you are too used to bunk classes and spend the entire time in the college canteen, if you are used to not study for the whole year and do it only when the exam is just a week or a fortnight away, if you pull off an all-nighter with friends for assignments and before weekly quizzes; you will soon realize that corporate world does not afford you the luxury of indulgence like these. Once you leave college, working on projects and assignments in the stipulated period, submitting them before the deadline is going to be a regular feature of the work life.
5. Just another job or a true calling?: – Most of the students go through this ordeal. Now, notice the order carefully – Join a college (Engineering? The quickest route to Nirvana?), stagger through the three/four years (Stagger, yeah that’s the word!), grab a job by campus placement process (who cares which company it is!), and then drag oneself against one’s will in the job. It’s really disgraceful if you take your job for granted, and continue with it just as a matter of fact. Wait before it strikes you at the place where it hurts the most. Are you really living up to your own expectations? Are you really doing justice to yourself? A job is not what you do just to grab a hefty pay-cheque at the end of the month. A job is what you spend more than half your life at, and hence, that it should be meaningful to you is just an understatement.
6. Be prepared for the worst: – If you are a fresher, you need to be prepared for many unexpected things ahead of you. Most of the times, students dream big while joining the company they have been recruited by. At the end of month one or two, most of them fail to recognize in themselves the zeal or excitement they had before joining. For one, the work pressure takes its toll on you. Number two, most of the work a recent college grad is given is entry level. Bright students find it hard to accept the fact that they are put in the same seat as another average guy. Expectation, they say, causes equal frustration. Be it life, be it work. Mental strength, on all fronts, saves you from drowning under the pressure of your own expectations and personal goals. It’s appreciated to have the ambition to move up the corporate ladder faster but remember there is no shortcut for hardwork.
Rajeev was going through the most difficult time of his life when he had two offer letters in his hand – both from two of the leading software companies of the country. This type of difficulty he always savors, for the reason that it gives him the opportunity to become spoilt for choices. But one thing he was not sure of; how to reconcile to the fact that life will no longer be the never-ending Christmas party that college was always to him. This article is specifically for students and recent grads like Rajeev. I know you are one since you are still on the article and finally, reading this line. Hope it helps. All the best!
[This article has been previously published as a part of my internship with ‘Internshala’. That too a virtual one. Link here: http://blog.internshala.com/2011/11/transition-from-student-life-to-corporate-life/%5D