With Bridget Berry
Bridget Berry’s tips for the Grad entering the work place!
Stepping into the office on day one, you suited up in your new work outfit that you picked out on the weekend, even your shoes are shinier than normal. You pass the office secretary and her eyebrow raises just a little, enough for her to draft a smile across her face as she sees the thin briefcase you have tucked under your arm. The briefcase she correctly guesses is packed with stationery that you excitedly bought at the local News Agency (an old school term for a stationery store). You walk to your boss’s office, you are given an overview of your tasks for the day and then you are kindly escorted to your desk. You neatly take your seat and place the briefcase on the floor, suddenly you have this strange feeling that the whole world is watching you…you not far off as you look around and the whole office is watching you. From the office clown to the wise cracking jock, even the computer junky with the Mr. T haircut is smirking at you and that sudden awkwardness that was once a gaze now turns to a sudden realization that you are over dressed, under prepared and all so in over your head…you are the new office grad!

1.What makes a grad employable, surely a person with work experience is a better asset to employ at the office?
Every company needs junior resources – I mean who else is going to do all the photocopying!!! No-no, let me assure you that is not the reason why companies employ graduates.  Graduates bring fresh ideas and new knowledge to the business - the latest business trends that they have just learnt and are eager to implement.  Companies need a mix of skills as people get promoted they need to train the next group of upcoming managers or their promotion does not allow them to develop themselves.  Within a professional services firm work levels allow for junior skills – we all need to start somewhere and to build our knowledge of the company and the working world.
2.Once recruited what should a grad strive to achieve at the office?
Newly recruited grads need to try and understand the company they are working for – it will be overwhelming that is one assurance I can give you– rules, regulations, procedures, documentation, processes there is a lot to absorb and learn.   
You need to know who is who – who to go to about your medical aid, who can help with your computer.  It will make a huge difference if you use the resource available to you – ask the right questions – don’t be afraid!! Find someone who you can learn from and trust, if you company assigns you a “buddy” great – only if you make use of this person to help you.  Don’t fight the system until you understand it and learn to do things for yourself there is limited “hand holding” take responsibility for your actions and understand that if you need something follow up and where necessary take action to sort things out – nobody is going to do it for you!
3.Are team players a must?
Yes and No this all depends on the environment you are working in.  Most new graduates are required to work together being part of a team helps as you have your fellow team members going through the same things you are – it not only helps get the work done but they make good companions for a drink after work or a game of squash to help relieve stress.
If you join a company that requires you to work in a team you need to ensure that you enjoy working with people, you will not be in a position where you can pick and choose your team members so need to be able to adapt and be flexible.  You also need to be sensitive to peoples cultures, beliefs and background and you need to learn that people are very different and have unique working styles.  Be patient and enjoy learning about people.
4.Do companies actually look for the next CEO or MD or are they looking more for individuals to fill certain roles or positions?
Companies look for potential in candidates, they want people who have the ability to go far.  Lets face it how many of your are going to start at a company and stay there for the next 10 years??  I am sure this is not a decision you can make right now.  My advice don’t go for an interview and tell the person interviewing you that you want to be the CEO or MD in two years this may sound like you are ambitious – which is great and needed – but it is not realistic.  In order to rise to that level you need experience and knowledge that only comes with time.
Companies will look for the potential when you start working for them  - they don’t expect a new grad to display this at the interview.
5.Do you find certain grads take for granted their employment and don’t actually live up to their expectations?
Unfortunately yes, some grads expect or even demand the job and cause mayhem within an organization due to demands and childish behaviour.  Remember that due to the economic downturn the job market has been suffering so don’t expect that just because you have a degree that you will get a job.  The reality is that there are plenty of graduates who battle to find a jobs - you have to display your unique ability so that you stand out – in a good way that is!
6.All-rounder’s, should sport and hobbies play a roll in a grad getting employed?
Being an all-rounder does not mean you know where to find the canteen!   
It shows your ability to be involved with different activities – multitasking - which is a vital skill in the working world.  Your future employer wants to know that you get involved in other things and that you have varied interests.  I know that when you study there is little time to do much else but you need to ensure you have a balance,  be it doing a sport or being part of a committee or just socializing with friends – these are the things that help build your character and give you different life experiences – that will come in handy!!
7.Does the Age of a Grad make a difference when applying for a graduate recruitment program?
Not necessarily, the pressure is often on the grad as he/she may be in a position where his/her superiors are younger, for some people they can accept and understand that and others find it difficult.  People of all ages decide that they need a change and invest in a new career, some do it via distance learning and others decide to go back to being a full time student.  In some cases companies respect the dedication that person has shown as they will need to balance a family with their studies.
8.Overall what is the main objective of the Graduate in a Grad recruitment program?
To learn, grow and develop to add value to an organization and bring fresh skills and their own unique character to the business.  Graduate programs are designed to help and organization find their future leaders.  Use this time to explore the organization and get as much knowledge as possible but also use this time to excel in your role and network with different people in the company.
Bridget Berry is a senior Graduate Recruitment Manager based in South Africa.