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How to transition from graduate to employee

Updated: May 25, 2021

Hey I’m Ann! I'm a Civil Engineer by training and an Environmental Designer by profession. Whilst I'm still at the early stages of my career, I have learnt and continue to learn, many crucial skills and tips in the world of work. My first official year of working (straight after my masters) was spent as a Graduate Bridge Engineer. It was a job that I found quite strenuous during the pandemic, and I just felt it wasn’t quite the right fit for me.

Fortunately, after a bit of time spent job hunting, I started a new role in the sustainable development sphere, focusing more on building physics and design – which I love!

I learned some hard lessons in both roles, and faced some tough realisations of what I expected from a career. Here are three key transferrable skills I learned:

1. Don’t put too much pressure on your job to be perfect

Our generation has emphasised job satisfaction; we demand more from our occupations than the previous workforces before us. It's understandable given that we spend a third of our lives at work, but after changing jobs, I realised that at the end of the day, a job is a job; there will be mundane tasks some days and alluring projects on others. Even high-flying entrepreneurs and influencers have to do less than glamorous work some days.

2. Celebrate the little wins

The standard I had set for myself as a graduate was astronomical and ridiculous. I would often overestimate how much work I could do in a day (in all fairness I still do), but what I've learnt to do is celebrate the small wins. Set yourself bite-sized tasks through the day and tick them off your list; it’s a great feeling.

3. Nobody knows everything about everything

For some odd reason, I was under the impression that everyone, but me, was knowledgeable about all the projects, all the theory and all the clients. This was, of course, irrational thinking and it stopped me from speaking to some of my colleagues. I also struggled with asking for help, for fear of looking stupid. But funnily enough, the more I asked, the more I heard ‘Oh, honestly, I don’t know, let's ask...’. I began to understand that other people didn't know everything, and that everyone has to ask for help sometimes; we're all learning at the end of the day.

*Ann is also the Founder of protective styling and natural haircare business, Itoju. You can find her on Instagram @Itoju.hc

Ann Idowu