Feeling nervous or uncertain about entering the workforce?
There is a huge jump in the transition from being a student to a working adult.
The working world is not just all about attaining grades anymore, and you will now be judged by a whole different set of criteria, based on the many skills that you have built up over the years, while you were attaining your education.
In this article, I’ll be sharing six essential tips you must know as a student before entering the workforce so that you can have a smooth transition and start your career off well.
1) Actively participate in Co-Curricular Activities (CCAs)
Having CCAs is a privilege that our education in Singapore readily offers. It is a free (or cheap — some clubs require you to pay membership fees) provision for you to learn new things or build on your passions.
Here are the common CCA groups and their potential benefits.
- Keep healthy and fit both mentally and physically
- Build strong camaraderie, teamwork and sportsmanship
- Appreciate culture
- Hone teamwork
- Hands-on experiences
- Hone a certain niche
- Hone discipline
- Learn life skills
CCAs are also an opportunity for networking. You get to meet new people with similar interests, form strong bonds and expand your network. These connections can teach you new things about different people and even link you up with opportunities that may be helpful to you in future.
Furthermore, it is recognised that employers do consider extracurricular experiences when hiring a new graduate. When an applicant has rich CCA participation, it shows that they have lots of experience and are good at time management.
Not having any CCA participation could be a red flag to your future employers that you do not have much experience working with others.
2) Aim for leadership positions
Leadership positions in schools will give you a glimpse of what it’s like to be in the working world.
If you hold a leadership position in your CCA, you will learn skills such as team management, event planning and time management, which are essential in a workplace.
Since you will usually have to go for interviews in order to try for these positions, they are also a great form of practice for your future job interviews.
Job interviews are very important as it is your determining chance to impress your interviewer and get hired. Many panic when their job interview is their first interview, so it’s beneficial for you to have an interview experience beforehand.
3) Get more job experiences
The importance of job experiences is underestimated. There are many skills that you will learn when you go out to work that you will simply not be able to learn from textbooks or theory.
You will face different encounters and learn how you can deal with different situations. One example is customer service. As a customer, you may overlook what goes on behind the scenes for the service crew. However, when you actually try serving on your own, you will see a different perspective and grow to understand what is expected in the professional world.
However, if you’re studying for national examinations such as O-Levels and A-Levels, most students would prefer to focus on their studies and spend their holidays studying for their exams. If so, it’s not too late to gain job experience when you finish your national examinations.
On the other hand, many diploma students will work during their holidays as they do not have national examinations to lead up to.
Of course, some are able to juggle their time well and can work while studying. It is up to your time management.
Employers will look at your job experiences to ensure that you have the skills to contribute well to their company.
Volunteering is a great way to step out of your comfort zone and empathise with different groups that exist in our society. It will bring you valuable experiences as you get to understand the experiences of people outside of your social circle.
You are also able to gain connections through volunteering.
Volunteering provides you with the opportunity to display your selflessness when you help others with a heart to serve and financial benefits put aside.
Again, this is something that employers will consider because they would want to employ someone with good character and a heart to serve.
5) Take care of your mental health
The transition to adulthood is overwhelming and there are so many preparations that you have to make in order to be work-ready. You may also feel stressed from the competition with your peers.
Above all, you need to take care of your mental health and ensure that you do not burn out, as mental health issues are hardly reversible. If you overwork yourself, you may put all your efforts to waste as you will no longer have the drive to achieve.
Take it slow and acknowledge that it is okay to go at your own pace.
6) Be careful of your reputation
Your reputation is a crucial aspect as it can make or break your future. Others’ perspectives of you can greatly impact your chance at getting a job even many years down the road. A good reputation can provide you with many opportunities, while a bad reputation can take away all of your opportunities.
With the onset of social media, things that can be used against you are very accessible to anyone in the world, which includes your future potential employers. Hence, you need to be careful about both your online and offline presence, because it can be easily used against you.
Make sure that you think twice before posting anything, as what goes on the internet, stays on the internet.
Stepping into the workforce may be an intimidating process but you can be well prepared for it if you follow our tips above.
While you are still young, try out new things when you still have the chance to trial and error. Even when you are a student, studies are not the be-all and end-all and you should focus on improving yourself and gaining experiences.
I hope that these tips will help you make the best out of your remaining student life so that you can have a good headstart when you have to step into the workforce!