Preparing for life after school
This is a proverbial case of the last mile of a journey - it seems to be the longest, most enduring and takes the best of performances to successfully cross over the finishing line.
Final year of studies at the university or college, likewise, seems to move at snail's pace - the question in everyone's mind is, "When will this be over? I want this to be done with so I can begin a new phase of life - that of work life."
The anticipation of starting a new chapter of life is intriguing, replete with excitement, and why shouldn't it be? The years of hard work, burning the midnight oil, teachers' expectations, parents' anxiety and the fierce peer competition reap their rewards when the first offer letter comes your way. "Yes, I am ready to take on the world," is the reaction.
But, are you really ready?
You have your degree, you have the knowledge and the know-how of tackling the stiffest of the challenges that your job will throw at you. However, in the real world there are other parameters that you may not be aware of or have not been taught. These form a crucial aspect of the work life, and if not handled well enough can derail you from your track. These areas - broadly referred to as soft skills - are largely to do with your behaviour patterns, your complete value system.
Let's go over some critical areas and situations that you are likely to encounter in a workspace and prepare you to be ready for the real life and real time challenges thereof.
If everything could be done in solitude, without interacting with anyone else, life would have been so simple - each to his or her own.
But, in life, that is not the case. At every step of life, one needs to interact and depend on others - bosses, colleagues, subordinates, clients, vendors, etc to get work done - and sometimes these interactions are less than amiable.
One thing to keep in mind is that everyone is different - has a different personality, temperament, thought process, and you have to learn to deal with them all, and many times simultaneously.
This requires a well-balanced, carefully and (ironically) quickly thought-out approach. There is no 'one-size-fits-all' scenario here.
Your actions and reactions have the power of making or breaking, positively or negatively impacting the environment within which you are operating, and these have a direct bearing on your own future.
It is important to be calm under all circumstances - keeping a clear, unambiguous mind, and being objective in your opinion and analysis is primary. Effective communication is crucial. Speak politely yet assertively to send positive signals to the person or persons you are interacting with. Be cognisant of your body language - before you say the words, your posture, the way you walk, even how you offer a greeting are worth a million words. A confident body language and pleasant facial expressions are some of the keys to move ahead.
Value system is an essential part of your life, what you believe in resonates in what you do and how you do it.
What is a value system?
To answer this, ask yourself, "How do you describe your inner self?"
Let's say the answer is, "A confident person with immense trust in truthfulness, believes in love and shows respect for fellow human beings."
This, in essence, means that the traits you mentioned in your answer - confidence, truthfulness, love and respect - are some of the values that you uphold.
So, your personal value system embodies these traits that are important to you. In other words, your values represent those attributes which you practise and display in your day-to-day living.
Unlike your physical features, value systems are acquired throughout life, either by way of being taught by others or by simply observing others around you, getting inspired by their actions and choosing to adopt what seems to be right to your mind.
For instance, we all have been taught about the existence of God who is to be revered, and many of us begin the day by acknowledging His existence by making worship and saying prayers part of our daily practice.
In another instance, seeing people helping and assisting the poor and the needy inculcates the thought of benevolence towards the poor, and you adopt the practice of helping and assisting those in need.
In a nutshell, these values govern your thoughts, actions and reactions. At the workplace, your belief in helping others makes you a likeable colleague for all; however, should you believe in 'I, me, myself'? Well, sooner rather than later you will end up alone and out of favour with all around you.
As we go along, we shall delve into areas that will help enhance your skill sets and give value addition to your knowledge base.
It is important for all those who are getting ready to step into the world of work to know that your values and interpersonal skills complement, and at times enhance your academic and vocational knowledge.
Have a strong belief in your value system that you have acquired over the years. Work towards eliminating the actions that are likely to garner negative response from others and become hindrance to personal career growth. Go out in confidence with a positive frame of mind, a confident stride and a charming smile. Success will be your forte. All the best!
n Ashish Jhingran is a Jamaica-based management and marcom practitioner and senior consultant with Synapse Communications. He has more than 25 years of experience with some top companies, spanning
multiple countries across the world. Send feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org