The Career Dose #8: Challenges of transitioning into the workplace.

The transition phase from education to employment can be quite overwhelming, and at times, well completely and utterly baffling and that is ok! In fact, it is completely normal to have those kinds of feelings. For many graduates, the gap between education and the working world is huge and for new graduates this can come as a complete shock to the system.

In college, you are almost spoon-fed and guided towards making the right choices, feedback received is consistent and expected. You have guidelines to follow, your whole experience is shepherd by your lecturers, tutors, and academic staff. Apart from the mandatory contributions, a great deal of legwork is done for you.

On the contrary, there is a sudden shift in feedback and support once you enter the realms of employment. The nature of the feedback will change. At college, it is very structured: you submit work for review, you receive formative feedback; based upon that you submit your assignment and receive summative feedback on that.  At work (formal performance reviews aside), feedback will be very ad-hoc; there will be a tendency for your line manager to provide it when they feel that you need it.

Your relationships at work will also differ quite substantially. Whilst at college, you can converse and build relationships with like-minded individuals who share many similarities with you, in some cases even your age. There is a great deal of choice in who you decide to spend your days with. On the other hand, at work you may find yourself building relationships in a strategic manner, partly developing friendships, but partly building a strong network of colleagues that can add to your career and help you in your professional development.

Naturally, some graduates find the transition into the workplace stress-free and smooth, others however struggle, sometimes quite significantly. Although there are ways in which students can prepare themselves before making that giant leap, there are also ways in which companies can help and ease the transition period.

For one, employers may adopt an induction period, where new graduates are able to shadow more experienced employees. This can have a positive impact on the initial experience a new graduate has upon entering the business. This softer approach allows for increased time to process changes, responsibilities and general changes of environment.

Mentoring is another great way of easing the transition period. New employees are assigned a mentor who will check in on them and support them for a period of time until they feel able to work independently and confidently. This strategy allows for employee relationships to form more naturally and also creates a more neighborly environment.

Quite clearly, the employer can do a great deal to make the transition period pleasant for new employees, however this should not be expected, rather students should look for ways of preparing for the world of work, giving themselves the best start. This doesn’t have to be overly-complicated either, simply asking for advice from more experienced friends/ family members that have been through a similar experience is a great place to start. Visiting is also an uncomplicated and effective means of understanding the general ethos of the employer through company reviews, these reviews allow for new starters to better prepare themselves for the standards of that company and so not be taken by surprise by anything!



Produced by:

Kashka Rowlands

Career Development and Employability Manager


Contact details:

©️ Nelson College London: Knowledge Exchange Centre


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