Four important lessons I learnt after graduating

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Anthony Bruton, Senior Programme Manager, Elevation Networks


Moving into 2017 marks the fourth year since I graduated and I’ve been reflecting on some important lessons I’ve learnt. Through my early career I’ve served and supported young people with a variety of backgrounds and aspirations, but I’ve found one common thread between them all: young people and adults are all concerned about their future and meeting goals. This reminds me of where I started and how I felt about leaving university. I’ve put together four pointers of my key learnings since then and I hope this can be shared to anyone who may be feeling unsure or anxious about breaking out into the working world:

1. Take risks – don’t be afraid to get things wrong

Since leaving Uni I’ve ‘upped and left’ numerous times to start an exciting job in a new place – I even spent a year abroad working in Hong Kong. Though these were exciting times, I wouldn’t be human if there weren’t occasions when I felt out of my depth. Nine times out of ten things worked out brilliantly but there were times I had doubts and needed to change direction. These moments of change shaped me to become more resilient and prepared for working and living outside my comfort zone.


2. Soft skills are fundamental

Whilst your CV may help you get invited for an interview, your soft skills are what make you memorable and likeable to be appointed for a role. You must display a positive attitude and an ability to work in a team – make it look super easy for a new person to communicate with you. In my experience the senior staff members I’ve looked up most to are those who can show empathy, respect and kindness to other employees working at any level. In a world where we’re becoming glued to our phones, make sure that you can demonstrate the subtle traits that make us human.


3. Try not to be proud – listen to feedback

To grow and excel you must listen to all types of feedback given on your performance. Of course you should celebrate when you have pulled a project off – but more importantly you should consciously be open to negative feedback and always look to improve on weaknesses. As people we can become defensive or upset when we are not meeting the set expectations from ourselves or others, but it is important to look forward and ensure the next piece of feedback you receive is exceptional.


4. Be prepared to manage your own expectations

I graduated from a prestigious drama school where we were told that we would be the most attractive graduates to arts employers. I noticed that this made people in my cohort feel that they were almost owed any job and many of us were left surprised when there were knock backs.

If things don’t pan out as well as you anticipate, it is important to remain open to other opportunities. Sometimes you need to work in a more junior role to enhance your CV. Don’t be frustrated during this time – use it to gain an insight into other organisations or professionals and understand how you can use this experience to shape yourself into the person you want to become.


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