Making the transition from campus to corporate

                                                                                                                                          By M.Vasuki Counselling Psychologist, IBS Chennai

This article discusses the various aspects of making transition from campus to corporate. Carefully choosing a career will help to stay motivated and remain a star performer throughout one’s career. A person moving out from a campus and entering corporate needs to do a lot of planning. It also creates a sense of excitement about forthcoming experiences and fear of what lies ahead, as there will be new challenges to face and huge obstacles to overcome when one starts climbing up in the career ladder. The article ends up in saying that making a successful transition from campus to corporate is the most exciting and phenomenal step in one’s life and that should be handled with utmost care.

  1. This article discusses the ways for making transition from one’s college life to corporate climate.
  2. Coupled with the need to make a profound first impression in one’s new job as a dedicated, determined, disciplined and dynamic professional, new graduates are also faced with the reality of the new world of work
  3. As new graduates entering the workplace, your career path will be coloured by many different careers, hence the need to develop your individual ability, strengthening your employability
  4. This article states that entering the world of work for the first time is a far greater challenge and one has to equip himself/herself to get in to grips with its new realities.
  5. Concludes that entering the corporate playing field provides a range of new challenges, all of which call for graduates to display accountability, professionalism and credibility

Transition is an on-going process in everyone’s life that takes place at different stages. This might be from the final years of school to the early years of higher education, occupational training, independent living or social opportunities. Also it can be from the final years of college/campus to the early years of one’s career. Transition from campus to career needs more attention as it involves a lot of planning. Planning for transition should take account of the personal goals and ambitions of the young person. The objective of the planning must ensure that the person possesses the necessary skills to enable the person to cope up with the corporate culture and climate. As the transition period is expected to be stressful and difficult, proper planning helps in reducing anxieties and facilitate the person to adapt to the new environment successfully. For an individual, starting to work in an organization is a unique and critically important phase that requires a special perspective and strategy to be successful as a fresher. Research suggests that the success of the transition period will have a major impact on aspects like salary, advancement, job satisfaction, and ability to have cordial relationships within the organization as well as on one’s own feelings of success, accountability and commitment to the job. And, the impact will last for many years and not just for the first few years. Preparing oneself to bridge the gap between the campus and corporate smoothly, requires a lot of effort. As a new graduate enters the work arena he is exposed to many career choices. Carefully choosing a career will help to stay motivated and remain a star performer throughout one’s career. Possessing better softskills, the required technical skills, effective communication skills and a winning resume will help to face the interview with courage and confidence. Making a first impression as an effective contributor will make the process of transition easier. Mannerism, behaviour, the way one dresses up, the way one carries himself are some of the personality traits that set the tone for future success on the part of the employer. In today’s competitive market these factors are very necessary to get the job .It not only helps in securing a job, it also helps to build strong employability -a necessary attribute to be successful in the chosen occupation and aids in developing one’s individuality.

Getting ready for transition

Take time out before getting into an organization. It will help one to detach oneself from his college and become accustomed to the new culture. The amount of time spent at college is far lesser than the amount of time one spends in a corporate. Therefore, one must know how to manage one’s time efficiently. Initially, one must take efforts to know his employer and also the co-workers. It takes some time to achieve the task- understanding the people and climate of the organization. Till that time, he must be careful in his interactions as he is moving with different people with different temperaments. Sometimes, it will be very conducive and cosy, otherwise, it will be like a disorganized family. One may not always like his colleagues. It sometimes becomes difficult to tolerate them, as time passes one gets used to it as he comes to know the nature of people. Till that time good or bad one must patiently tolerate them. Planning the dress one would wear is also very important, unless the organization has a dress code. One must dress appropriately as per the job.. Coming to work on time needs lot of effort. One should plan ahead the mode of transport and calculate the time taken to reach the office from home. It is always better to plan the route to work and be familiar with some alternate routes in case of any eventuality like traffic bottlenecks, or the cancellation of train service, auto strikes etc. The above mentioned strategies will help to make a profound first impression in one’s new job and organization as a dedicated, determined, disciplined and dynamic professional.

Some Tips to succeed during the initial period of transition:

  1. Punctuality is very mandatory. It is better to arrive at work on time. Strictly follow the rules and regulations of the corporate.
  2. Listen, observe and give attention to every minor detail before jumping to any conclusions.
  3. Stay away from internal politics and gossip. It is better to observe the happenings around us and not contribute to it.
  4. Follow professional ethics by imparting values and manners. For instance, one’s friend’s room may be okay with him, but barging into the employer’s room is not acceptable. Use simple magic words like ‘Please’ and ‘Thank you’.
  5. Be a learner always to learn what you need to know. Find a mentor to guide in the career path.
  6. Always stick to deadlines. Complete the assignments before time so that one will have time to make changes if required.
  7. Pay keen attention to corporate culture to learn how things work within the organizations.

A person moving out from a campus and entering corporate needs to do a lot of planning. It also creates a sense of excitement about forthcoming experiences and fear of what lies ahead, as there will be new challenges to face and huge obstacles to overcome when one starts climbing up in the career ladder. This phase is an important transition in life and it needs to be handled effectively. The first year of a career is a very crucial period and it should be viewed separately and distinctly from the remaining years of one’s career. For a beginner, it is a learning phase and he learns to use his communication skills effectively to deploy his potentials and to maintain a cordial relationship with the employer and colleagues. Now, it has become a practice to recruit students from their colleges through campus interviews. The recruiter chooses a person for his company with the belief that he will have the potential to perform the tasks assigned to him. Gaining acceptance, respect and credibility is the challenge that lies in front of every college student who is intending to get into the corporate sector They need to be prepared to get exposed to the corporate culture. That is they should be groomed in such a way that they are given an opportunity to hone the necessary skills needed, to make the transition from campus to corporate successful.. The challenges in the early months can be faced with courage by using a few specific strategies presented here. It will also allow one to establish oneself as a bright, capable, and valuable employee and to earn the respect of the colleagues and superior.

The strategies one needs follow:

  1. Develop the right attitudes: Developing the right attitude motivates one to be optimistic and help the person to face career challenges. There is a connection between the attitude one has today and the success one would get tomorrow.
  2. Limit the expectations: Try not to have over expectations regarding the job profile, remuneration and other responsibilities. Limiting the expectations can make a difference between success and failure of the career.
  3. Make a good first impression: Create a best impression by exhibiting the traits of dedication and accountability in the course of work.
  4. Build cordial relationships: It is very necessary to have empathetic and intuitive understanding to build cordial relationships with superiors and other employees.
  5. Be a good follower: Initially one should be a good team player by adhering to the rules and regulations and be a good follower.
  6. Explore the organization’s culture: Each organization will have a unique and exclusive culture for itself. Understanding the culture and people associated with the corporate will help one to function within its parameters.
  7. Develop work savvy: Understanding the job profile will help building and mastering the skills and knowledge necessary for that particular job.
  8. Build up organizational savvy: This would help a person to connect himself easily with the organization. By observing what the other employees do, say, and how they act One can acclimate to the new organization’s setup that will aid him/her in becoming an important part of their team
  9. Exhibit Professionalism: Develop the ability to stay focused and emotionally stable irrespective of the issue or however stressful the situation may turn out to be.

By following the above mentioned strategies one can make the process of transition smoother. Apart from this there will be discrepancies between campus and college in other aspects also. One of the aspects is, in the campus the deadline is flexible/extendable and altered whereas, in corporate, deadline is a deadline and one has to strictly follow the time schedule. Another major difference is students get their feed back or their work is evaluated by the teacher or sometimes head of the campus. These feed backs will be frequent; concrete in the form of marks or grades as they follow a structured curriculum that gives direction to students In the corporate work culture, on the other hand, 360′ appraisal system is followed. One is expected to be at one’s best all the time as they function in an unstructured environment. In campus, most of the time, students face intellectual who are employed are faced with organizational and people challenges. Unlike campus, challenges in the form of exams, assignments etc., but those corporates have limited number of holidays. Time is very precious in the work world. One needs to manage his time efficiently.

Nothing promotes success for a fresher as softskills. Unless they follow the necessary etiquette in order to maximize the business potential, by being courteous and thoughtful to people within an organization they can’t hope to make a good impression in their work place among their superiors and colleagues. Induction programme given for freshers is the golden opportunity to make a good impression using the social skills. These social skills include listening to instructions from seniors, discussing the issues with the leader, accept criticism, learn to give and take compliments, effective leadership skills that inturn creates a congenial organizational culture. It is a significant phenomenon enabling the employees to sustain in the organization by harmonizing the work life balance.

Managing work stress

If one wants to survive in the corporate world he should be able to maintain work life balance. In order to prevent a burnout, that is not common in the campus life, one should have a sound psychological and physical health. Apart from examination time, students do not function under any stress, but in the corporate world, employees get stressed out easily due to high expectations and demands from the superior. If you do not perform well, within the frame work of given time, you are considered incapable. This produces lot of stress among employees. Stress can be equally painful and a hindrance to performance for the junior most recruit and the most senior executive in an organization. It is most challenging for a junior, as he is fresh from the campus where he was exposed to a more secure environment. The corporate echoes a different slogan “stands up and be counted or be counted out”. Eventually, employees will be stressed out easily. Therefore, every organization must understand the need and importance of stress audit practices for their employees especially newcomers, to elevate organizational stress.. Self- development helps one to balance between inner and outer self. When one’s self characteristics are congruent with role requirement of the organization where he/ she works, role enactment is more effective, proper and appropriate than when self and role are incongruent. The knowledge gained at campus must help the person to acquire this congruency. It protects employees from stress and helps them to become professionally equipped and refreshed Professional renewal incorporates acquiring skills for effective role enactment. As a student he would have been doing things in a different way, but as a newly appointed employee he should learn what has to be done and how,- to be effective in professional life. At the organizational level, strategies such as well developed recruitment and selection processes incorporating psychometric assessment can ensure better job-person fit. This can be particularly effective in reducing the risk of psychological injury resulting from non-work factors such as personality styles that increase the likelihood of individuals becoming vulnerable to stress under certain circumstances. Those new graduates from campus cling on to their student mindset, attitudes and behaviors till they understand the organizational culture. If they take more time to understand the rights, responsibilities, and credibility of a qualified professional then the transition period becomes more stressful and may damage the early part of the career. They should develop the understanding atleast by the intermediate stage which lasts from the time one accept the job until about the end of the first year.

Campus life and corporate life are fundamentally different. The domain expertise and knowledge acquired will be very essential to succeed in one’s career but the procedure to be successful in campus is very different from the procedure to be successful at work. If one continues to have same expectations from his employer as he/she had from the professors in the campus, one will be highly disappointed and damage the career success as the culture of education is so different from the organizational culture.

Also in college, students receive lot of directions regarding their course as what to choose or how to complete a particular task. These are rarely possible at work as they do not have a structured curriculum. One can learn a lot by involving oneself in hands on activities within the organization. Students follow an agenda in college like attending a class, studying the lessons and attempting an exam. From this environment it is quite difficult to go to an environment of 9 to 6 job with entirely new set of people as they have different interests and ambitions. It definitely demands a lot of adjustment. In order to build a strong foundation, first-year employees should be aware of the following tips:

  1. Try to learn everything about the corporate functioning including the annual reports and the organizational charts. Figure out the working style of the company like what the company does and how they do it.
  2. Clarify your doubts by asking questions and also listen a lot. This will also help to learn about the organizational structure, technical issues and the work culture.
  3. One can improve his performance by seeking feedback from his managers and colleagues, who can provide suggestion too. This will help the person to function more efficiently as corporate always appreciate hard work.
  4. To become a better human, always seek ways to educate oneself by developing both professional and personal skills. Having fun and laughter at workplace will help one to rejuvenate and avoid getting wrapped in workplace politics.

As a newcomer one needs to look at his career as a great challenge. From the beginning of the career look forward to learn new things and build the bridge between the technical skills and soft skills; one needs to stay connected to the people and the organization. For a debut, display of accountability, professionalism and credibility helps to face the challenges in the corporate world. Making a successful transition from campus to corporate is the most exciting and phenomenal step in one’s life and that should be handled with utmost care.

References:

  1. www.faculty.business.utsa.edu/bjwilson/docs/transition-to-work.doc
  2. www.careerplanning.about.com/cs/firstjob/a/post_grad.htm
  3. www.jobweb.com/resources/library/Workplace_Culture/Managing_theTr_303_1. htm
  4. www.uwrf.edu/ccs/assets/documents/handouts/first_year_on_job