Entering the corporate world at a young age can be daunting, without a doubt. The changes experienced may vary from person to person, firm to firm, but what’s important is being prepared for what you might be faced with and some ways you can prepare for them.
Although most of us have been used to going to school 9-3 every day for over a decade, a 9-5 job can be seen as a lot more rigorous. Not only are you working an extra 2 hours a day, but you’ll also only have a restricted amount of holiday to use, where only you can decide when to take them. This flexibility and self-autonomy may seem like a dream but you’re going from having a 6-week summer to having 6 weeks annual leave a year… this can be tough to adjust to.
My advice for overcoming this is to firstly, not overcram your days with work. It can be very easy to burn yourself out with work, particularly when you first join an organisation, so make sure to manage your time and your tasks properly to not overwhelm yourself with work. Secondly, I would advise you to plan your holidays in advance but also leave flexibility for ‘emergency leave’ when you’re feeling in particular need of a rest.
Up until the age of 18, most of us have been used to only socialising and working with people within our age groups. When entering the corporate world, the people in your team and office will be of all ages with many different interests and ways of working. The ability to build relationships, adapt to different generation’s ways of working and communicating effectively with a variety of people, is a key skill you’ll need to adopt.
My advice for this is to talk to as many people as possible. Put introduction calls in with people you have an interest in talking to, make small talk with random people at the coffee station, go to networking events, etc. Putting yourself in this position will help you get to know a variety of people and allow you to understand that whatever age people are, or however senior someone is, people are more than happy to talk to you about themselves, their experience or anything else!
I personally found this one of the more challenging elements to adapt to. I have always seen myself as ‘professional’, but ensuring I also stayed true to myself and my personality was difficult. A silly example is that I would always send smiley faces at the end of an email because I’m used to doing that on social media. But when emailing more senior employees, I had to quite literally force myself not to (lol). As well, having a Gen-Z sense of humour can sometimes conflict with more mature members… So learning to adapt my conversation and mannerisms to who I was around was important.
My best advice for being yourself, but remaining professional, is to understand and adapt to the people you’re interacting with and what situation you’re in. If you’re around other apprentices, you know that you can be a bit more relaxed and laid back. If you are around the managing director, you know to be extra respectful, whilst still upholding your personality. Building your emotional intelligence will come with experience; but as long as you are friendly and interacting with people respectfully, there’s not a lot you can do wrong.
I hope you found this useful! If you have any further questions about anything on this post or degree apprenticeships, please feel free to reach out to me on my Instagram @Myconsultantcareer :)