Lessons From my First Year of Work

Posted on: 22 June 2016

I started working for Student Hubs last August after graduating from Imperial College London, where I was an active student volunteer. I knew back then that I wanted my job to feel purposeful, I just didn’t quite know what I wanted that purpose to be. I loved Student Hubs and everything they aspire to, so I decided to take the plunge, work for them for a year and see where it took me. For any of you who are about to graduate and make your first proper foray into the world of work, here are 7 things I’ve learnt in my first 9 months:

1. I’m very privileged to be doing a job I love 90% of the time. Work can be stressful and has its less exciting moments (hello, admin work), but more than 90% of the time I am doing cool, innovative stuff, being trusted with lots of responsibility and working with some pretty awesome people.

2. Sometimes you’ll have to do things you don’t want to. My advice is to not always resist tasks you are reluctant to do – compromise is a part of life. Who knows, it might lead you to amazing and unexpected places. I probably never would have moved into my current role as Kingston Hub Manager if I had shied away from changes to my responsibilities during my graduate year.

3. Work isn’t everything. In fact, it usually takes up around a third of your day. Sometimes being young and ambitious can make the work-life balancing act difficult, but make sure to give yourself a break. Learning to recognise when you need to step back for a bit is a great skill to have.

4. Create a support network. Being a recent graduate can be difficult, so it’s important to surround yourself with people who you can laugh and relax with – friends who will call you out when you’re not behaving so well, but also support you when things are tough. I was lucky to find most of these things in the friends I made through the Worthwhile graduate scheme.

5. Networking gets a little easier each time you do it. Who you know does matter (even if it shouldn’t) and you have to be ready to put yourself out there, make connections, communicate your passions and interests, sell yourself and shout about what you’re good at, even if it feels terribly awkward.

6. You’ve got a lot to offer. It’s much easier to think of how much you can’t do or don’t know than it is to remember all of the things that will make you an asset to an organisation. Be confident in yourself and own it. If you don’t get this interview or that job, it’s probably because it wasn’t the right fit for you and something better will come along.

7. If you’re completely confident about everything you’re doing, then you may need to try something new. The past 9 months have taught me that sometimes you have to fake it ‘til you make it, although you might feel slightly uncomfortable along the way. Adjusting to a new management role over the past month has been an intense learning curve for me. I’m lucky to have had the support of Student Hubs who hire based on potential, not just experience, and have given me the chance to develop and prove mine.

Fatima Iftikhar

Fatima is now our Kingston Hub Manager, having supported student social action at Kingston University and Imperial College London as part of the Worthwhile graduate scheme in 2015/16.

Tags: Social Action, Social Enterprise, Social Impact Careers, Third Sector

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