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CAPE TOWN – There’s a rhythm to starting each semester in school. ManpowerGroup’s managing director, Lyndy van den Barselaar, explains that new college or university graduates can use the same format to approach transitioning into the workplace.

Making the move from tertiary education facilities to the workplace requires a lot of adjustments, including learning to acquire new skills, managing interactions with clients and colleagues, and learning to balance independent projects with working on a team.

Whether you’re adjusting yourself or working with someone new to the workplace, here is a checklist of ways to navigate the transition and make it more manageable.

Stay proactive and communicative

Remain in constant communication with your superiors in order to ensure you receive the right type of experience and guidance throughout the process. “Your on-boarding experience is crucial to your adjustment into the workplace, so ensure that you are communicating effectively rather than keeping to yourself,” says van den Barselaar. 

Long term project management

In university or college, a big project rarely lasted longer than a semester. In the workplace, you’re often expected to juggle multiple projects that can last six months, a year or longer. When you’re working on projects of these lengths, set several milestone goals, check in on progress regularly, get feedback, and use the resources of others around you. 

Set expectations

At the beginning of the semester, your lecturer probably issued a syllabus and devoted the first class to expectations. This not only provides a framework, it helps determine the lecturer’s teaching style and fit and feel. The same format is just as crucial when starting your role in the workplace. Sit down and communicate with your superior face to face – not just over email – so both of you can get a sense of your style, your motivations and the expectations around you and your role.

Secure a mentor

When you’re in college or university, you can stop by your lecturer’s office or book an appointment with your academic advisor. The same principles of mentorship are just as important in the workplace. But after you graduate, you have to be more proactive about it securing your own mentor. Having a mentor will enable you to learn what employers expect from new grads and you can use the information to make yourself job ready. 

“Most importantly,” says van den Barselaar, “realise that the transition into the workplace takes time. Be patient, take in as much as you can, and work hard – and soon enough you will find that you have grown and matured into your role.” Good luck, graduates!

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