x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Some tips for start of working life: first, never lunch alone

Thousands of students in the UAE are about to graduate from high school and college and many of them will head off for their first internships or full-time jobs. Manar Al Hinai offers a few tips for the start of working life.

A new job provides a great learning experience. Jonathan Alcorn / Reuters
A new job provides a great learning experience. Jonathan Alcorn / Reuters

Thousands of students in the UAE are about to graduate from high school and college and many of them will head off for their first internships or full-time jobs. If you are one of them and have already received a job offer, you are lucky. Because of the global economic gloom, many college graduates are underemployed or unemployed.

And while many of you will have no choice but to accept internships and part-time jobs, don't fear that you are selling yourself short - these positions will provide you with a wealth of knowledge as well as serving as a stepping stone for your future career.

Whether full-time or part-time, a job means a new challenge. For some, this might be the first experience in a business environment. I remember feeling extremely lost when I started my full-time job at a financial organisation two years ago.

Surrounded by so much new information, I constantly felt overwhelmed and that I was lagging behind my more experienced colleagues. I did not know whom to turn to for advice, and it took me months before I got the hang of things.

It was then that I realised that what I learnt in my college textbooks was totally different from what I needed to apply in my career. Now that I have gained experience, I have helped to train two interns in my department, and as you prepare for your new job, and the challenges that will arise after you start, I would offer a few pointers that I have seen work for new employees.

Never eat lunch alone at your desk. One of the best things about a new job is the great learning experience it provides.

Every single person, from the chief executive to your floor's receptionist, can teach you a lesson that might be beneficial not only in your job, but also in your life.

Many of the happiest people I meet at work are those who are not afraid to ask for guidance. Do not be shy to meet and talk to your colleagues, and learn from them.

You would be surprised at the amount of knowledge you will accumulate in a very short time. Also, do not fake that you know how things are done.

Some new employees choose to act as if they know how to complete any task assigned, to save themselves from looking inexperienced. But in this case, it is OK to be ignorant. No one expects you to know everything about your first job, even if you have graduated with high grades.

The trick is that you learn faster, and achieve much better understanding of your role if you ask for help.

Work hard and be prompt.

Malcolm Gladwell, the author of Outliers, a book that examines business success, says hard work is at least as important as talent in succeeding at a job. His "10,000 hours" rule states that in order to truly master a skill, a person must dedicate 10,000 hours of practice. It has worked for many successful people, including the Beatles.

In addition, nothing indicates how serious and hardworking you are as your respect for time and punctuality.

A human resource director at an Abu Dhabi investment firm told me that when it is time to consider promoting an employee, great weight is given to punctuality.

Manage time to prevent overworking.

When I was in college, it was easier to get assignments done because we were given a deadline. College helped us to balance our lives and gave us a break to recharge our batteries. But a job is totally different. Sometimes it is hard to do a task perfectly, and you will have to set your own deadline.

Time management is extremely important to prevent anxiety and stress, which can make you less productive in the long run.

Map out your projects ahead of time, and make sure to leave some room for mini relaxation breaks every now and then.

As stressed and challenged as you might feel when starting a new job, it could also be the best learning experience for you. Be sure to make the best of it.

Manar Al Hinai is an Emirati fashion designer and writer. She can be followed on Twitter: @manar_alhinai