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A survival guide to your first graduate role

Posted on 10/07/2019 by Gill Bell

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Congratulations – you’ve landed your first office job! Yes, you’ve worked in pubs and shops, but this is your first step in your professional career and although you’re determined to make a great first impression, it’s all feeling a bit daunting. 

The transition period from uni (or gap-year) to the working week can be a little nerve-wracking. What should you wear? How do you impress your boss?  Will you ever make friends?  Worry not!  Here’s some handy tips to help you glide to success in your new role:

Be prepared

No more late nights binge-watching Netflix – you’ve got to be bright-eyed and bushy tailed EVERY morning.  And if you’re working in London, you have to factor in the challenge of public transport.  No boss has much patience with a lethargic, yawning graduate who is consistently late to work. Be early.  Be calm. 

The right attitude & behaviours

It is understood that fresh graduates have a lot to learn and expected that there may be bumps along the way, but you need to show that you are keen, alert and ready to absorb all that new information.  Be proactive and take ownership of your own development.  Take lots of notes to refer back to and ask lots of questions.  Be willing and eager, offer your help and exude positivity.

Basic manners

Give your new job your undivided attention. Don’t be tempted to use your personal phone during your core hours or constantly check messages – even if other people do so.   And be mindful of your body language - make eye contact with the person speaking and nod/smile to show you are engaged.

Making buddies

Good relationships at work are incredibly important – you spend most of your waking hours with these people.  So how can you make friends in your new role?  For starters, make the effort to learn your colleagues’ names and the roles they do - introduce yourself!  And ask HR for an organisation chart or seating plan to help you remember.  Be brave - talk to everyone in your office, not just those in your department seek out opportunities to socialise, be it at work events, in the kitchen whilst making your lunch, or in the elevator up to the office. Just a simple “how was your weekend?” should get you chatting.

Work hard, work smart

BORING – another day of filing!  Suck it up.  Every job will have its less exciting elements, but as a new grad, you are likely to have your share of mundane tasks in the initial weeks.  It’s all part of the plan to ensure you aren’t overwhelmed, but as you work hard and show your capability, you will be trusted with more challenging work.  Remember – you’re likely to have to pass a probation period, so you need to make a great impression.

Tackle any problems by asking for help.  Manage your diary carefully and leave time to prepare for tasks or meetings.  Prepare your thoughts in advance, and set deadlines for any follow-up action. 

Work out

It can all be a shock to the system – quite literally.  8 hours sitting at a desk can have a negative impact on your physical and mental wellbeing, so take steps to counteract those effects.  Try to make a conscious effort to keep active at work and after work. Standing up every hour, using your lunch breaks to go for a walk, joining a nearby gym and using the stairs rather than a lift can help prevent you from slipping into a sedentary office lifestyle.  If you’re luck you company may have some benefits to help you stay fit and healthy.

The final hurdle – the office Christmas Party – avoid the shots! 

So there you go – some top tips to give you the best chance of success in your new graduate job.  If you remain open-minded, positive and willing to learn as you go … then you will be fast-tracking to success. 


Apply for our Graduate Researcher role