The transition from student to graduate is one that many people find themselves underprepared for. The obvious difference being going from days of relative freedom to a more structured day (unfortunately you cannot skip work the way you can lectures!) However, the aspect of the transition that I found the most daunting, were the ways in which my life became unstructured. Unlike industries such as Accounting, Law and Medicine, the PR and Communications industry has no set required qualifications to progress in the field. This can make it quite challenging to find a structured way to climb the career ladder.

Having been a student for 16 years, my understanding of success has been shaped entirely by the academic system. I found comfort in knowing that I could measure my performance by my grades. Years of using grades as a yardstick meant I felt quite underprepared for a world where there is no “right” way to do something. This, combined with the rest of my post-uni transition had me constantly questioning whether I made the right decision. Especially as I felt, I had no one in my position to bounce ideas off.

I currently work at Kekst CNC, a global strategic communications agency, I’ve been here almost a year and have already learnt so much (and I’ve barely scraped the surface!). However, as I continue to grow and get more comfortable in my career, I would like to share a few lessons I’ve learnt from my first year of employment.

  1. Don’t be afraid to ask questions when you don’t understand

I understand the desire to seem as though you know everything and prove to your company that they hired you for a reason. However, remember that they understand you’re a graduate and accept everything that comes with that. They don’t expect you to come into the job with 40 years of experience – if anything it would be silly of them to. Feel free to ask things for things to be explained as clearly as you need it to be.

  1. Learn from your mistakes

We’re all human and we all make mistakes. The likelihood of mistakes occurring is even more so when you’re not completely sure what you’re doing. Don’t be afraid of making mistakes, they’re inevitable. Use them as an opportunity to learn what you can do better next time.

  1. Learn to set boundaries

At university, the concept of pulling all-nighters to get the work done is incredibly normal (this may or may not be because work has been left until the last minute).  However, be careful not to carry this mindset over to work. There is often an infinite amount of work to be done so you’ll never be truly “finished” the way you can be when you have finished university assignments. For this reason, set healthy boundaries so that you don’t fall into the trap of constantly overworking.

  1. Read the news

You cannot be a good PR professional if you have no idea what is going on in the world. Try and fall into the habit of reading the news every morning. The type of news you may need can vary depending on your sector but try to have as broad of an understanding as you can on current affairs. Maybe even challenge yourself to go a bit further and think how what you read can apply to or affect your work. Outlets I recommend are City A.M., Financial Times, The Guardian, BBC, Finimize and for my politics lovers, POLITCO London playbook

  1. You need to be proactive in your development

As you settle into your new job, the first few months will seem like a whirlwind. However, you will eventually reach a point where you feel you comfortable in your role.  At this point, it can be very easy to fall into a pattern of sticking to what you know but to get the most out of your experience, it’s important to be proactive in seeking opportunities for both professional and personal development. These opportunities can be as simple as learning how to use a new digital tool or platform or volunteering to work with a team you haven’t worked with before or even being a part of a work committee. Essentially you want to ensure you’re getting the absolute most out of your company and the opportunities they have to offer.

Toluwani Omotoye, Associate, Kekst CNC