Starting a new graduate scheme can be an exciting but daunting time. Together with some former colleagues and friends, I have put together my “Top 5 tips” of how to adjust and to get the most out of a graduate training programme.
- Be as open as you can to the new opportunities and challenges that are thrown at you.
- Say “yes!” to chances to visit different departments, speak to senior managers, build relationships with your graduate and day job colleagues. My first three months of induction involved visiting a range of treatment facilities, detecting leaks, travelling all over the area my company served, undertaking vital health and safety training and meeting many useful contacts who I was later able to draw on when I had queries or problems. It also helped me understand the business as a whole, and how my day job fitted within it.
- Charity fundraising events are also a great way to meet different people who may do very contrasting roles, and can be a useful informal networking opportunity. I have built a raft and rowed down the river (twice!), cleared a garden at a centre for the disabled, taught Primary School children about water saving, and lead a group of teenagers through a tech event day where they designed a healthcare app.
- Ensure that you don’t take on too much! This may seem in direct contrast with the first point, but ensure that you are able to deliver everything expected of you. It can be challenging to balance the needs of your graduate scheme alongside your day job, but always ensure that your day job does not suffer, especially if you manage a team.
- Set a good first impression. A colleague of mine unfortunately was caught staring out of the window by a senior manager during the first week; an incident which can come up in conversation to this day many years later. Don’t be that person!
- Find a good mentor. Some graduate schemes encourage this, and it can be a great way to learn more about the business, and when they work well, a good relationship with a mentor can help both of your set achievable targets and grow in your new role. They can also be a useful “sense check”. If you can’t find someone within your business, look outside. Find someone who you trust, and who challenges and supports you.
- Don’t panic! Ask questions, ask for help, make small mistakes and learn from them.
Did you know that you can still use UCL Careers for up to two years after completing your course? Find out more by visiting: www.ucl.ac.uk/careers/gradclub
– Hannah Posner, Careers Consultant, UCL Careers