Starting work immediately after matric is a huge shift and there’s a lot of adjusting to be done. Work is extremely different to school and if you’re not prepared, you might find yourself really frustrated. Lucky for you, we’ve got a few pointers to help you manoeuvre this big change.
No more long holidays
This one’s going to be really difficult to adjust to. In the working environment, leave (days you get off work) is accumulated over time. This means that you don’t get frequent terms and holidays, instead you work every day that you’ve agreed to work on your contract and apply for days off based on the number of leave days you’ve earned. There are laws that govern how employees can acquire leave for different reasons — whether you’re sick or have to attend to a family emergency — so make sure that you’re familiar with them as well as the individual policies of the company you’re working for.
Start saving up immediately
Getting a salary for the first time in your life can be exciting and you may be tempted to blow it all on unnecessary stuff. However, it’s important to start saving immediately and teaching yourself to be responsible with your money from the very beginning. You don’t know what emergencies may happen, or if you’ll need money for something in the future — so open a savings account and put a certain percentage of your salary in there every month. You’ll thank yourself for it later!
You’ve got to have your own back
In school, your teachers and even your peers can offer encouragement and support when things aren’t going so well. In fact, you’re advised to tell your teachers about anything you might be going through if it affects your schoolwork. Unfortunately, the workplace isn’t like this. You’ve got to be self-reliant and there’s very little room for excuses about why your work isn’t up to scratch. Although Human Resources (HR) may be available to hear any complaints or issues you might have, you should only go to them for serious concerns affecting your work. Keep an open mind
You’re going to meet a lot of people with different mindsets, backgrounds, beliefs and attitudes at work; and although there are rules, they don’t really regulate how people carry themselves or speak to others. So, you need to keep an open mind and try not to let even the most unkind characters get to you. Also, you might get a bit of criticism based on the kind of environment you’re working in — try not to take it personally. Allow yourself to learn by being open to correction and advice, since this is your first time at work.
Your colleagues aren’t your friends
This can be especially challenging to come to terms with since it is possible to build good relationships with colleagues. However, unlike in school, the working environment doesn’t really favour cliques, and oversharing or gossiping with your colleagues can earn you a bad reputation. The best thing to do is to be kind and friendly without sharing too much personal information or getting involved in office politics and gossip.
It’s a big change and it may seem a little intimidating, but trust us, with the right attitude and a bit of time, you’ll definitely adjust to the world of work. Good luck!