• Eve Arnold

How to Deal with Change as a Graduate

It’s no secret that as a grad you will be moving around ALOT. It’s actually what attracted me to doing a graduate scheme in the first place. It’s probably what attracts a lot of people coming out of Uni into the working world because it means you get a taste of different areas and then you get to specialise. One thing to bear in mind though is that change sometimes has a big impact on people’s wellbeing. I wanted to talk about my experience with a lot of change on the graduate scheme and how I dealt with it. For most people, existence prior to a graduate scheme was University, so for the past three years things will have been pretty constant and pretty structured. Moving into the world of work is of course a lot different to that. First of all the structure in the typical sense is not there. Whereas before you got taught something, checked you understood it and then you were tested on it, you got your marks back and then feedback to see where you need to improve… that doesn’t really happen. In the classroom or the lecture hall the variables are all pretty controlled; everyone hears the same information, everyone gets the opportunity to ask questions, everyone gets tested at the same time, marked from the same syllabus and gets feedback from the same person. In work, all of those variables uncontrolled.

On top of learning how this new world of work, well… works, we are also faced with the reality that we will be moving placements every six to nine months. It can be quite overwhelming. Here’s how I thought about it:

1. Keep some things constant — there will be things you can control that you can keep constant, like seeing your friends and family, doing things you enjoy, reading, writing, painting — whatever your thing is. It’s key that those things stay the same during your time on scheme. They can be a reassuring comfort blanket that the whole world isn’t change (although it does feel like it is at the moment).

2. Make sure you voice your concerns — being able to voice your thoughts and feelings is key to keeping on the straight and narrow. Make sure you are being conscious of how you’re feeling. Sometimes that can be really difficult and talking out loud to someone does help. It’s very typical to think you feel like the world is ending and as you start talking you think ‘oh actually it’s fine, I’m getting myself worked up over nothing really’. But not having the conversation means you won’t realise that and it will continue to build up!

3. Reframe the way you are seeing it — it’s really easy to think things are going horribly wrong when you are looking for them too. It’s called confirmation bias, it’s essentially when our brains look for things to confirm what we already think. It’s the same reason that when you are thinking about buying a new BMW, you all of a sudden see a lot of BMWs on the road. That’s the same for if you are thinking you are doing rubbish. If you wake up and think that you are not being heard and you are rubbish at your job, your brain will help you confirm that. So that odd look in a meeting or the way someone told you to do something feels like a personal attack when actually the person saying it is just quite firm in the way she says things. By reframing what you are saying to yourself can help you find positives in a day rather than the negatives.

4. Get people on side — The best way to feel at home in a new team is to build connections with them from the outset. Now, as we all know being the graduate can sometimes make you feel like you are the outsider. The graduate badge is often one that is used with caution, some people think the graduate scheme is great, others feel it’s unfair. So, going into a new team can sometimes feel isolating. The best way, I’ve found, is to be inquisitive of your new team and make relationships first. Asks questions about their life, their passions, their experiences, their knowledge. People love talking about themselves. It’s what we feel we are all an expert in, so ask away and let them talk. You will find that there will be something you have in common with them that then makes working together a joy. You just need to find it. Maybe you both love music or dogs or nature. Once you find that it means you have a bridge that you can walk over as many times as you want together.

5. Perspective — I feel like anytime I write about my experience as a graduate it always has the word perspective in it. It’s so funny because at the time I know I felt myself worrying about what was next and how well I was doing and what it all meant. Now it’s funny to look back at because it all sort of just fades away and you figure working life out. Having perspective that you are just at the start of your working life and that the best thing you can do is experience it and be as self-aware as possible is hard when you are in it. One thing that used to help me is taking a step back and being objective. Asking yourself some fundamental questions can help you feel less overwhelmed a) Am I healthy? b) Do I enjoy aspects of my job c) Am I in a place where I can explore and be inquisitive d) Have I got a roof over my head e) Have I got family that love and support me? All those things can make you feel like life isn’t all that bad and that this is just part of the journey.

Originally published at https://www.careerhealth.info on March 16, 2020.

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