Starting your first graduate job

Three recent graduates cover their top tips for starting a graduate job, including asking lots of questions of your new colleagues, saying yes to potential opportunities, and making time for proper breaks and walks outdoors.

Harriet, Ari and Vico share their tips from their experience of starting their graduate jobs during the pandemic.

Video transcript

Speaker 1 - Harriet

Hi, my name is Harriet Swift. I graduated in July 2020, in the middle of the pandemic, it was really strange not having those typical end of degree celebrations, such as graduation. However, after job hunting over the summer, I was fortunate to secure a position with Leicester City Council. I started my role in October 2020 and had my first day in the office, however have been working from home ever since.

In terms of my top three tips for starting a graduate job in a pandemic, my first one would be to talk to people as much as possible about how you're feeling and how you're managing and ask as many questions as possible. I found it really helpful to talk to people about how I was managing meeting people virtually, for example, and just generally working from home. One of the best piece of advice I've ever received is that there's no such thing as a stupid question.

For my second tip, if you are working from home, I would encourage you to see the benefits of doing so. I try to shift my thought process from 'I have to work from home' to 'I get to work from home' and I definitely know that my dog would not get as many walks as he does if I was in the office every day!

For my third tip, I would say expect things to change quickly. With lockdown restrictions changing what feels like every minute, expect things to change quickly within the projects you're working on, for example. You might spend quite a while planning for something, for then restrictions to stop it from taking place. But if you expect these changes, then it's much easier to adapt to them.

Speaker 2 - Ari

Hi, my name is Ari, and I'm a 2020 graduate of the University of Sheffield and I currently work in Marketing and Communications for a tech firm. So here are my top tips. Number one, back in June, I was completing my final essay for uni. And then the next week, I was starting my new job. And I felt the transition was really underwhelming, particularly because I had plans to travel during the summer. And I was really looking forward to graduating. So I realized that this feeling was completely okay. And instead I decided to practice gratitude towards the things that I did have, things could be a lot worse.

Number two, when I started my job, I wanted to cement my position as 'one to watch'. I said yes to whatever opportunities came my way. And I tried to speak to as many people as possible whilst working remotely. And this was recognized in our staff awards, where I was given the 'hitting the ground running' award. So even whilst working remotely, there might be opportunities for you to take advantage of, and you should take advantage of them.

Number three, I was completing my final year during the first lockdown. And this was incredibly stressful. I stayed motivated by being grateful for my position in life as well as reminding myself of the goals and ambitions that I had set myself, which helped me stay on track with uni.

Speaker 3 - Vico

Hey there, this is Vico. I graduated in spring 2018. And after that, it took me a while to figure out what I wanted to do next and what my next goal was going to be. And that's how in October 2020 I got my first job at a think tank company. Now, during the lockdown, I struggled in general to keep myself active. But that became even harder when I started working. So what I came up with, was to set up this kind of coffee daily walks where I get coffee across the street, I'll go around the neighbourhood with my wife, have a nice chat with her, we get like a small break from work during the day. And then also whenever possible, we enjoy good weather.

Me and her both work from home, which means that at times we have problems with connectivity. And what we found useful was to communicate to one another when the other one is having a meeting. Kind of like maybe prioritize bandwidth, but also the space where we're going to have the meeting. And at some point we even joked that we were going to get a button that will read 'on air'. So they will know when the other one was meeting and not interrupt each other.

On the other hand, starting a job during the pandemic meant that I haven't been able to meet most of my colleagues. And in retrospective, I would like to have created stronger bonds with them. But that's something that I plan on working on this upcoming year.

So if you're planning on starting a new job during the pandemic or are hoping to get a new job, hopefully this video has made you realize that you're not alone. Although we're in different places, me, Harriet and Ari are going through the same kind of situation, which means that we're trying to stay as connected and as productive as we can. Trying to stay safe at work but also trying to find that nice work-life blend that works for us. And that's a journey. So, thanks for watching and good luck.