04th Oct 2011

The Graduate Profile

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Sophie is 23 years old. She has travelled the world from Mexico to Kuala Lumpar, with jaunts in Helsinki and San Francisco for good measure. She has felt the warmth, anticipation, and intense fear of love at first sight – James from her Microeconomics course – and the anguish of the unrequited. A facebook profile packed with glossy photographs is a virtual record of her life thus far.

Along the way, Sophie also acquired a first class honours degree in Accounting and Finance. Now, with a tailor-made suit and shiny new shoes, she is entering the corporate world for the first time. Sophie aced her interview, and numerical and verbal reasoning tests; she has just been hired as part of the graduate programme with a leading corporate bank.

However, one week in to her induction, Sophie feels completely out of her depth. The self-possessed young woman who accepted her scroll with pride at graduation, begins to realise that her academic excellence does not effortlessly translate into corporate acumen. As a result, her confidence is dwindling.

The corporate world does not necessitate an in-depth knowledge of German wheat beers, or the ability to barter in pidgin Portuguese. The new suit and briefcase are feckless props in Sophie’s demanding new role. She is facing into a period of intense learning, and not in the academic sense. Her new environment demands emotional intelligence: self-awareness, self-regulation, and self-motivation. It demands she learn fast, and effectively: she must be capable of establishing strategic priorities in order to ensure she stays focused on them. But she is struggling, even in adjusting to the workplace culture, and the inherent but unspoken conventions, laws and conflict management processes therein.

While Sophie is fundamentally competent (she would not have been hired if she wasn’t), she needs guidance, a boost of confidence and a push to excel.

Essentially, Sophie needs to transform her talent and potential into sustainable and tangible business results. Graduate programmes in large-scale organisations cultivate the leaders of the future, yet graduates are often so ‘green’ that the initial challenges they face can stunt development. A strong and confident start in the corporate environment is crucial for both the graduate and the organisation.

First100 recognises this, and is soon to launch its Graduate Assist Programme. Through workshops with the First100 consultant, the new graduate will be assisted in how to make an impact early in order to accelerate business performance.

Hilda Goold

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