THINK LONG TERM – Don’t win the battle, only to then lose the war.
Edwin stormed out of his manager’s office leaving the door wide open. How dare Mr Jeffrey (his manager), ask him to re-do all the filing that he had spent 8 hours completing last Friday. He could still hear his manager’s words echo in his ear “Edwin, you need to be more organised. These files are important. You cannot simply drop documents here and there in no order. I understand you already had training on this so why did you not follow the guidelines? You will have to re-do everything again”.
Edwin thought back to his life four months ago when as President of the Student Union, he was treated with the utmost of respect. Everybody came to him for advice; no way would he ever be expected to do any filing. And now here he was in a large international organisation where he was supposed to be trained as a future leader and yet they expected him to file documents all day? He had, had enough. They could keep their job. He would go and find a job elsewhere where they would value him and give him the respect he so deserved.
He walked back in to his manager’s office. Mr Jeffrey his manager hardly took his eyes off his pc screen. Edwin didn’t even bother knock on the door. “Mr Jeffrey” he said, “I’m here to hand in my resignation. I don’t think this company values me and I think I will be better appreciated elsewhere”.
“That’s fine, Edwin” Mr Jeffrey calmly replied. “I will inform HR to prepare your exit papers”.
Edwin walked out with his chest puffed out. Nobody messes with me, he thought. That will teach them.
Three months later, Edwin was returning back from an interview – his third that week and eighth since he’d left the big firm. How did it all come to this, he asked himself, as he avoided stepping into another puddle. All his interviews would go well until they asked him why he’d left a good graduate job. He was getting tired of this question. He thought the day could not get worse. “Edwin, Edwin is that you?” he heard a voice from a car. He turned around. It was Mrs Kimasha, his pal Michael’s mom. “How are you Edwin, I thought you were in London with Michael and all the other graduate trainees?” Edwin was taken aback. His pal Michael who he thought was too soft; always on time for work, always doing as he was told, was now in London and not him? How had it come to this?
How he wished he could turn back the clock. At university, he was the King bee, but in the world of work he now realised, he had a lot to learn. He was left out in the cold, with no one but himself to blame.
When we leave university, we think we know everything. We are ready to conquer the world. But the reality is this: we have not even scratched the surface of what we call life. A life on campus is totally different from life in the world of work. What may be deemed important on campus may not even be relevant in the corporate world. Your campus title means very little in the world of business. You have to prove yourself and learn fast – starting from scratch. There is no one to tell you what to do or what will be expected from you, week in, week out. You may receive guidance but you will very often have to use your own initiative at work.
Transitioning from Campus to Corporate life need not be too hard. Many of you will graduate with good degrees i.e hard skills – these are skills that can be learned in class or, on the job. What lets down many young people like our friend Edwin above, are ‘soft’ skills. These skills cannot be crammed once, then tossed aside. These soft skills (communication skills, manners, team work, conflict resolutions etc), represent who we are. They don’t even necessarily come from working hard at your job. They come from inside you; you therefore need to unlock them.
Stop obsessing about job titles. Be humble and try to learn from others: be they your parents, older family members, teachers, lecturers, boss, mentors etc. Don’t let arrogance or ego, cost you a great future. Wishing you all, a good week! To read more posts by Miriam, click HERE