10 practical career tips for every new graduate!


10 practical career tips for every new graduate!

4896 3264 Brenda Akinyi

It’s that time of the year when graduation season is upon us. Graduation marks the beginning of a new life for many. With all the great plans you have made on the type of career you will have, you want to make sure you set yourself up for success. With your uni days behind you, it’s time for a new life adventure as you strive to become your best self. In this Shortlist blog,  we are sharing 10 things you should keep in mind as you start out:

1. Your first job as a recent graduate isn’t going to make your career and neither is it your last.

It’s easy to convince yourself that you have to get your dream job right after you graduate and keep it for the rest of your career. As a matter of fact, that is almost unheard of these days. Keep in mind that your first job is your entry point, a chance for you to learn what it takes to succeed in the business environment.

Consider your first job a journey to learn about yourself. The purpose is to discover what you’re good at, what you love to do, and what you dislike. Be open to opportunities, look at the bigger picture and focus on the ultimate goal.  If you are offered an opportunity outside your scope of the study, for instance,  go for it and take the learnings with you.

2. You may not know what you want to do for the rest of your career, and that’s perfectly okay…

Believe it or not, it is completely normal for people to graduate from school and not know what career path they want to follow. You may have an idea based on the courses you studied but oftentimes you find that your goals change as you gain experience in the workplace.

Being open-minded and exploratory will definitely help you figure things out in time. As a new graduate, take advantage of the opportunities around you, ask questions, take initiative and above all don’t be afraid to fail. You will work on projects that excite you and some that bore you to your very core, but ultimately this is what will help you understand your strengths and find your sweet spot.


3. The learning does not stop at graduation….it’s only the beginning

You may not be in a classroom setting anymore but with the world constantly changing and evolving, what you know today could be useless information tomorrow. Even as a new graduate, you’ll quickly realize that there is always more to learn.  If you focus on consistently sharpening your knowledge in your field and honing your skills, you will not only stay relevant but also grow in your career.

Though you’ll have plenty of distractions, don’t be too caught up in life that you ignore your lifelong learning. Making constant progress and being more knowledgeable can increase your motivation and self-confidence. You’ll discover your personal interests much faster by exposing yourself to new ideas, concepts, viewpoints and beliefs. You can also improve the quality of your life with a commitment to lifelong learning.

4. Don’t burn too many bridges

Always remember that jobs will come and go, but your reputation will stay with you forever.  You are free to choose to exit a company for a better opportunity and that is okay. Your boss knows at the back of their mind that this is always a possibility; similarly, this applies to interviews or turning down job offers. Should you come to a place where you want to leave an organization, be careful about how you go about it, think clearly and rationally about the actions you are going to take and how you will end the relationship with your employer at this point.  Remember to be polite, timely, and appreciative in your communications – especially when you’re leaving a job or declining an opportunity.

Our actions can sometimes come to haunt us in the future – remember it’s never about the leaving, it’s about how we leave. Your reputation, work ethic and how you treat people are the things that will define you as a person. So don’t get carried away by how you feel in the moment and think about the actions you are taking as well as the long term effect.

The business community and the world, in general, is much smaller than you think. Chances are you will work with the same people again at some point in your career.  Think about being on your best behaviour (the way you’d behave or prepare for that all-important interview) on your way out of a company as well as on your way in.  Who knows what doors will open up down the line as a result…

5. The secret to your success lies in the person you haven’t met yet

Networking is about building long-lasting relationships with others. It’s about making a deep connection with someone such that if you call them a year from now, they’ll be happy to hear from you. The old adage “ Your network is your net worth”  proves to be true, especially as you grow in your career. People with a solid circle around them can rely on those networks to open doors and help them out. Recommendations and strategic partnerships can accelerate your growth at pivotal times in your career.

Granted, networking doesn’t always seem easy – especially when you’re starting out.  But the good thing is that with constant exposure and concerted effort, you will become more comfortable.  If you are just getting started, go for the low hanging fruit. Start with the people around you. Your old school mate, someone you worked with in the past, your neighbour or lecturers. Start by asking someone for coffee or a 30-minute chat to offer their advice. Here are a few tips to get you started on networking.

6. People will come and go …..learn to adapt

Throughout your career, you will meet new people who will have an impact on your day to day life in different capacities. Your office bestie will move to another organization, and it will suck, but you will have to move on. (And you might find that you stay in touch for many years even after you’ve both left that job!)

You will also love your colleagues but as you grow in your career, you too may have to move to another organization to explore new opportunities for growth. Leaving your colleagues or workplace may be hard, however, you will need to do what is necessary for your career.

Keep in touch with colleagues even after your working relationship ends. This is a great way to build a deep and meaningful network that will set you up for the rest of your career.

7. Patience is a virtue

As a new graduate, give yourself the gift of time. You’re probably not going to be an overnight success, – no matter what some people make it look like on social media. If you’re like most people, you are going to start from the bottom and that’s okay. Put your pride aside and realise that this is just a starting point. As you build your career, you will face varying degrees of setbacks, and your level of resilience is what will help you get through these times and come out better on the other side.

Accept that sometimes delays are likely in a variety of situations but practising patience with yourself will ultimately increase your capacity to achieve long term success.

8. Seek out a mentor

It is never too early to have a mentor, but it is important to remember that true mentorship, like friendship, is a two-way street, you also need to do your part, do the work it takes to maintain the relationship. There are also no rules on who can be your mentor. Peers make great mentors too because they are in the trenches with you and may have skills you wish to learn. So no pressure to seek out a CEO or Director to mentor you.

Mentors can help you avoid the frustrations and mistakes they made and get to the desired outcomes faster. This is because they’ve been where you are and they know what it takes. Finding the right mentors takes time.

9. You don’t have to “fake it till you make it”

Chill out! Nobody expects you to know everything about your job as a new graduate and faking it isn’t going to cut it. Instead of trying to pretend you know more than you do, you can actually get to know more than you do by acknowledging the skills and experiences your colleagues have. Ask questions often, try your hand at new projects, practice more to actually be good at your job.

Get all the advice and guidance you need early on in your career and expose yourself to environments that push you out of your comfort zone.

10. You want to be a part of the Shortlist community! 😀

At Shortlist, we are passionate about unlocking professional potential. From bi-weekly newsletters to career coaching and career success modules. We provide you with resources to help you kickstart your career and guide you on your professional journey. Check out some of the candidate features and resources available to you as a member of the shortlist community.

  •  Looking to spruce up your resume? Check out our CV builder that will help you create one that clearly showcases your skills and achievements to a potential employer. Sign up to create yours today.
  • Career Coaching: Looking to discover your strengths and find some guidance on your career? Sign up for coaching sessions on our career coaching app CoffeeChat
  • Not sure what career path is right for you or are you looking to switch paths? Check out our Career Success Modules. Designed to help you as a graduate kickstart your career exploration journey. You will have different modules to guide you on a self-discovery journey with personality assessments. You will also determine paths you could explore based on your interests and strengths.
  • Are you increasingly coming across job applications that require you to take competency-based assessments? We have resources to help you get a feel of these assessments and practice beforehand. Create your profile and check these out.
  • We go a step further to keep you informed with up-to-date job opportunities. You also get professional development content and any career-related events that are happening in your area. We also give you a weekly dose of Monday motivation to kickstart your week with a bang!

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What are some of the things you wish you knew as a graduate? Share with us on our Twitter handle with the hashtag  #RisewithShortlist.