The Graduate Experience

It’s a strange experience being a Graduate.

Initially, you feel immensely proud of yourself because:

  1. You've finished your degree(s)- you deserve a pat on the back! Now to start tackling that HECS Debt

  2. You've survived a gruelling recruitment process AND you've managed to stand out from your peers to secure yourself a Graduate job

  3. You've finally got your foot in the door to the allusive 'real world'.

Your first week rolls around and you take your first step into this 'real world door' in your new corporate outfits which doesn’t feel quite like ‘you’ yet, and hope no one notices just how uncomfortable you feel.

Suddenly it dawns on you…. YOU DON’T KNOW ANYTHING.

90% of things you learnt at Uni are irrelevant and you suddenly have to learn the written and unwritten rules of a new world - the office…. Your 15,000 word thesis about gender performativity on Instagram means NOTHING here!

Completing simple tasks like operating the code system on your locker, and setting up your printer access without looking completely inept are hugely challenging, and you start to wonder the true value of that Bachelors' Degree, and what potential the recruiters saw in you in the first place!

Being a 2018 #SpectrumGrad, and a member of the Strategy & Growth team for Skout Solutions has been an extremely humbling and exciting experience. For my first rotation in Skout, I am learning about the preparation, strategies and recruitment processes involved in large scale mobilizations across Broadspectrum’s contracts. Starting to learn about the breadth and capabilities of Broadspectrum has really made me realise how lucky I am to have this opportunity, and the potential for personal and professional development which lies ahead.

A key challenge of being a graduate is the constant battle with self-awareness (or lack thereof). As a newbie to the 'real world', it is challenging adjusting to new communication styles and contexts.

Things I've learnt in my first few weeks about self-awareness:

  • It is crucial to know who your audience is. Messages contained in your communications need to be appropriate for the audience to leverage the response you seek. This is very hard!

  • Under-promise and over-deliver. It takes time to establish how long it actually takes to complete tasks, particularly when you're not fully aware of all the hoops you will be required to jump through to get a response to John by 5pm on Thursday.

  • Knowing what key questions need to be asked, so you can deliver what is expected of you. If you don’t know, you're going to waste time and let your team down. As a graduate, its your job to ask a lot of questions.

  • Realising how you hold yourself in the office impacts on others around you, every day. While I may just be a graduate in a 14,000-person workforce, I am responsible for the attitude and energy I bring to my surroundings. Saying hello to everyone in the morning, having a positive outlook and a smile goes a long way.

  • Realising that building your personal brand and reputation among your team happens every second of every day...This is daunting.

The reality is, no matter how many 'how to succeed in business' books you read, and how ‘on-point’ your corporate attire is, sometimes you find yourself in situations when you just want the earth to open up and swallow you.

Last week, I managed to escape for my lunch break and to enjoy a glimpse of sunshine. As I was waiting for the elevator, I put my headphones on and proceeded to listen to some obnoxiously loud music. As soon as I walked into the elevator, I suddenly realised I had walked into an elevator completely filled with the C-Suite including the CEO. Here I was going for a 12pm lunch break wearing headphones. Could I have done a more millennial thing if I had of tried?

I immediately ripped the headphones out and turned red as a tomato. I said hello to the (thankfully) approachable CEO and realised I couldn’t remember any of the other senior leaders’ names. I stood in the centre of the elevator feeling outnumbered as the only woman, embarrassed for not recalling everyone's name, and for not having an elevator pitch ready to go.

Did I miss an opportunity? Yes.

Did I survive the day and learn from the experience? Yes - Note to self: Study that Org structure and learn everyone's name!

Over the next 2 years, I look forward to contributing meaningfully to the Skout Solutions and Broadspectrum teams, being challenged every day, building my network within the business, and for continuously refining my skills.

Watch this space!






about the author

Cian Dawson - Graduate

Cian Dawson recently graduated from The University of Melbourne. Her background is in Gender Studies, so she is really interested in diversity and inclusion and how these principles are put in place through the recruitment process. Cian is looking forward to building solid relationships within the team and understanding how Skout offers innovative talent solutions for our clients. And she can definitely bring a big friendly smile to the office! Just look at her profile!


  • 23/03/2018 Nero Levinson
    Great blog Cian! I can definitely relate to your experiences and I think you captured the graduate experience really well. Looking forward to hearing more about your experiences in the coming years!

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