Careers Advice

Top Tips to Transition from Student to Employee

Follow these steps to hit the ground running as you make the transition from student to employee.

Published: 14/08/2019

With determination and a positive mind-set, transitioning from being a student to graduate employee can be an exciting time; it's a new chapter of your life, so it's normal to feel overwhelmed (at least every so often). Take a look at our tips to start strong in your new role. 

Set clear goals  Do you know what you are working towards? One of the most important skills to learn as a new employee is how to prioritise and break your ‘to do’ list down into manageable pieces. This will also help you to feel a sense of achievement along the way. By setting realistic objectives you are more likely to know how and where to start and you’ll be amazed at how much you can accomplish.

Ask questions – Contrary to what you may believe about trying to do everything yourself, asking for help and/or clarification will save you a lot of time and potentially, depending on your sector, save your employer money.

You may not have questions until you start the task but your manager won’t be available to answer them at any and all times in the work day, so keep a notepad nearby as you work through your tasks. You may find you can then answer your own questions, but if you’re still unsure, don’t be afraid to speak up.

You aren’t expected to know all the answers and it’s invaluable to draw knowledge and experience from your colleagues. Remember, everyone was once where you are now and they have all asked the same questions at one time or another.

Be proactive – Knowledge is power so read up on the industry that you work in to keep up to date with relevant trends and topics. Keep an eye on the news to see how current affairs could impact your role or company.

Research whether the profession you’re in has an industry body you can join where you can meet like-minded peers. And why stop at networking with people in your profession? Go to other events where you can meet potential business connections in other fields.

Be creative – As a graduate you bring fresh thinking and a new perspective, so use your initiative… but first read the situation. Your ideas are valuable, but ensure they’re well timed and that they aren’t delivered as critical of others’.  

Use your unique insight to find solutions. Perhaps you have an idea to improve a system or process; suggest it. You were selected for your skills and knowledge so make sure you use them to make an impact in your new role.

Resilience matters  ‘If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, try again’. It's a well-known proverb, but what does that mean for you? When you're starting your first graduate role, you may feel out of your depth. Many incredible employees suffer from mild to extreme ‘imposter syndrome’, frustrated that they don’t have all the answers… getting to grips with your new role takes time, and you aren’t expected to be perfect. You only fail when you stop trying. Your manager and colleagues can offer feedback about your job performance and offer you tips on how to improve that you can build on and take forward to your next task.

Find current vacancies on our graduate placements page.