If you’re finding life tough after graduation, you’re not alone. It’s a well-known fact that finding your feet as a trainee in the work environment after the relatively flexible time you have enjoyed at university can be daunting – and considering that it’s a life changing move, it isn’t surprising that this can be one of life’s greater challenges.  

For many people, adapting to working life is much harder than they expected it to be. For starters, there’s the inflexible structure of the day. You don’t control how you spend your time and you’re expected to concentrate for nine solid hours at a stretch (probably more), which is not only new, it’s tiring.

During this period, you’re also expected to take in huge amounts of information, most of which is new to you. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by this and so many trainees do – the trick is not to let it get the better of you. Understand that it could take months before you feel comfortable at your new firm, but also know that you’ll eventually get there. Don’t be hard on yourself, learn from your mistakes (and you will make them, that’s a guarantee, but so will everyone else and it’s ok), and give yourself time to adapt.

Learning good time management skills is key in terms of handling your work load and you should learn early on to prioritise your tasks in order of importance. That said, it’s equally important to make sure that you’re striking the right balance between work and down time – you still need to exercise, see friends and family, and get enough rest to keep you going.

Getting to know your co-workers can really help lessen the stress of your first few months as a trainee. A friend at work means you have a friendly ear to talk to, a partner to grab a quick coffee with and ultimately, making friends means you have allies, who are undoubtedly facing the same uncertainties you are.

You should never be afraid to ask questions. You’re new to the job and to the firm – how else will you ever get to know how things are done? There’s no question too embarrassing or too silly to ask, and your managers will expect you to be asking questions all the time as part of the learning process. You should frequently touch base with your manager and ask for feedback on how you’re doing – what you’re getting right and what you need to work on – and then apply yourself accordingly.

At the back of your mind you should always remember that everything that seems so new and foreign now, will very quickly become as natural and comfortable to you as anything else you’ve become used to.  

Epic Discussion

Related articles

35 Under 35: Elton Pullen

35 Under 35: Elton Pullen

The world of high finance is not the only option for accounting graduates. Teaching has its own rewards as CA(SA)...

Random Acts of Kindness

Random Acts of Kindness


 Leaders Never Quit

Leaders Never Quit

 12 281km. 117 days. 10 cities. This is what SAICA sponsored athlete, adventurer, actor and musician, Ivan...

View Archive