Transitioning from pandemic student life to an office job? Here’s where to start

The past couple of years have brought many challenges for people across the globe but no more so than students. With the move to virtual lectures, ever-evolving exams, lockdowns in uni halls and a Hokey Cokey approach to life in general, it’s probably fair to say that the ‘classic’ university experience has been somewhat of an antithesis to those of us who have recently graduated.

And, as we exit out of lockdown life, the reality of returning to a classroom or starting a ‘real job’ feels a little daunting. Transitioning from online learning to starting a new job – having never stepped foot in an office before – creates a whole host of anxiety. With lockdown increasing anxiety by 25% globally, you are not alone if you also feel worried about how to cope with such a big change and what to expect in the workplace.

As both a recent graduate and someone who recently made this switch, I’m here to provide a few tips on feeling confident in your new role and what you can expect from office life. 

Get the basics right 

Whether you’re looking to feel prepared for office life or perhaps you’ve started and want to build confidence, it’s important to get the basics right. Here’s what you need to know.

Question master

Ask questions! It’s crucial that you ask if you’re unsure about anything whilst learning the ropes. Curiosity and eagerness are often met by praise from employers – they are not going to expect you to get it on the first try! That being said, it is also important to be aware of when to ask questions, leading onto my next tip… 

Opportunity to act

Take initiative – especially during busy times. You’d be surprised how much is just common sense, so don’t be scared to mess up occasionally: most things are easily fixed and it’s better to have a go than waiting for constant guidance. The more initiative you show, the more you’ll be trusted with more tasks and develop more skills as you showcase competency. 

Positivity is key

Try to be an asset and a friendly face in the office that people are pleased to see. Be positive. I promise that being chatty and friendly will encourage you to feel more comfortable and confident in the long run as you build relationships, even if it is slightly out of your comfort zone in the beginning. Think about the bigger picture.

First aider

When you’re new, you will still be getting to grips with many processes and you may have little understanding of previous campaigns and initiatives. Something that helped me was to offer a helping hand with a project in the works as this will enhance your understanding of what is currently happening within the company and give you ownership of a new area, whilst also proving yourself to be an asset.

Party people

Although technically a less office-related tip, don’t underestimate the importance of getting involved with any social opportunities that come your way. As the saying goes, it’s the people that make a place, so capitalise on any opportunities to join work clubs, events, or even just getting lunch with your colleagues to help you feel more integrated with the team.

What to expect from the office in your first week

Don’t fear coming in. At Hallam, everyone is super friendly – of course, this sadly isn’t the case everywhere, but, for the most part, the majority of offices will also be similar. I mean, it’s pretty bad form to scare the newbie away on the first day, right?

Some of these tips might sound obvious, but having spent much of the last three years working online, here’s what I wish I’d known:

  • People are often on calls, so if you get easily distracted by other people’s voices, I would recommend bringing in some headphones!
  • It is so much easier to walk over to someone’s desk to get a response than waiting on a lecturer’s email…
  • At lunchtime, you can grab a bite to eat, either in the office, with colleagues or feel free to take some time to yourself to recharge. Hallam really encourage colleagues to get away from their desks so if your workplace is similar, make sure you take them up on the offer. 
  • There’s snacks! And coffee machines! I went wild. No regrets. 
  • Being in the office often gives you the chance to take part in any impromptu activities to better get to know your colleagues, like going for drinks or a breakfast club. Try to stay flexible to allow for any last minute plans that might come your way.

Key takeaways

Since joining Hallam, I’ve discovered that agency life is very diverse – there are so many areas that require a huge range of different skill sets, so you can find something best suited to you, with no day ever being the same!

The best feedback I have received since being here is that showcasing attributes of enthusiasm and a willingness to learn are valued much more highly than having a specific skill set when looking for fresh talent – one of Hallam’s core values is to ‘get after it’, after all. Skills in specialisms can be taught, but being proactive and knowing how to take initiative are not so easily acquired. So, keep trying and remain eager – the worst anyone can do is say no. 

I am incredibly fortunate that Hallam promotes a remote working policy, however, I decided that for me personally, it would be best to immerse myself in the office life. We underestimate the importance of small micro-interactions throughout the day and the way these function to build relationships over time. For me, being in the office also makes it easier to ask unlimited questions (to an extent!). I would encourage any graduates who have the option of remote working to do the same when first starting a full-time role if you can!

If you think Hallam sounds like the ideal place to start your career journey, then check out our vacancies here.


Megan McVeigh

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