5 Tips to get YOU from the classroom desk to an office desk

April 28, 2022

By Priyanka Krishna

Moving beyond the safe walls of SFU into the business world is a big jump. There is an unspoken expectation that because you are an SFU graduate, (or soon to be one), you are fully equipped with the skills you need to succeed in all your projects and tasks. At least… that was my expectation for myself, however coming into the position that I am currently in, a Constituent Assistant for a Member of Legislative Assembly, that was further from the truth. My journey through SFU did give me the research, design, and communication skills I needed for the job however there is a wealth of skills I didn’t quite have a handle on. For the first few months I definitely felt that I was just trying to keep my head above the water. So, I figured why not share the tips that have helped me make this transition; so that way your transition can be a bit more seamless.

1)   It's ok not to know…. Just ask!

When diving into a new job, it can feel like you are being thrown into the deep end of the pool. You not only need to learn the workplace culture, but also the expectations of your role and how your role works in conjunction with others. Working as a Constituency Assistant was not something, I ever thought I would do. Politics and governmental processes are not at all my strength, so coming into this position I knew very little. The thing I learned very quickly is that it is better to ask. Pretending that you know everything won’t get you very far and will just add stress to your life. Seasoned people in your office are there to help you. By asking questions you are not only going to gain skills, but you are also ensuring that the task or projects you oversee are getting done correctly the first time. Also, you may learn that you already have the skills to succeed you just need some guidance on how to use them in a specific setting.

2)   Be confident not cocky

This can be a fine line you have to dance. Similarly, to the point above, asking questions will expand your knowledge base which in turn will grow your confidence. Acting like you know everything is only going to set you up for failure, because when it is crunch time and you don’t have the answers your smoke screen is blown away.

If you feel like you are lacking in the confidence department it never hurts to wear some of your favourite power colours. Dressing the part, will always boost your confidence level as it makes you feel like you belong. Practice some power poses, before you go into the room to help convince your brain that “Yeah! I got this!”.

3)   Google is your friend

You may feel pressured to know everything and to always have the answer, but it is important to remember you are a human and not an AI machine, this is where Google comes in. If you are unsure of how to use a certain software (i.e.: Excel, Adobe Design, etc.) or if you just don’t know where to start on a project 99% of the time Google has the answers. There is no shame in doing this. In fact, by doing some Googling you are also refining your research skills and learning something new to expand your skill set. Remember work smarter not harder.

4)   Make time for taking care of you

You might get told that leave your personal life at the door when you are at work and leave work at work when you are done for the day, however this isn’t always possible. There are going to be times when you take the stress home of an ongoing project or the weight of a conversation with your family might be on your mind while you are at work. In order to show up 100% at work or at home you need to make time for yourself. Find something that you enjoy fully and do that to recharge yourself. This could be baking, working out, mediating, having a phone conversation with a loved one etc. Personally I have a 5 minute gratitude moment everyday when I wake up, where I spend 5 minutes being grateful for 5 things in my life or day. Once a week I also tend to incense my home and spend 30 minutes meditating and then going through my calendar so I know what my week ahead looks like.

5)   Be your authentic self

Remember you were hired for a reason….YOU! Sometimes you may find yourself doubting your ability or skill level (I know I do), and in those moments remember you were hired out of a ton of applicants, because your employer thought you were a perfect fit for the position. Everyone has different talents and skills, maybe you aren’t the fastest typist, but you might be a better communicator. Maybe you bring more empathy and a different lens to a role that the team didn’t have before.

I hope you find these quick tips helpful. Now go out there and slay it!