5 Tips on Moving From University to Work

University life involves going out drinking with your mates, spending all day in bed, late night library sessions to get coursework done and going to the occasional 9am lecture.

But what is it like when you leave this life style behind and enter the ‘real world’ of work?

My name’s Zak, and I am currently on a placement year at Charlton Morris, and therefore feel very qualified to provide an insight into the transition from university to the working world”

I have had to make lots of changes to adapt to the fast paced, high intensity environment that is executive recruitment, but they pay off! Here are my tips for success:

#1 Get up Early


The first culture shock was early mornings. They hurt.

As a business, Charlton Morris will work you harder than most, because they always want to stay one step ahead of the competition, which naturally means putting the hours in so you can establish yourself in the market you’re assigned.

Normally, I get into the office at around 7:30, ready to get stuck into my day at 9. This means a 6am alarm which is tough, but does get easier, honest. I’ve managed to make things a bit easier by being prepared for my days, doing things like ironing shirts, preparing lunches and getting to bed on time.

Outrageous behaviour for a student!

#2 Go to Bed Early


Another shock to the system was going to bed early. As someone used to being virtually nocturnal whilst at university, it was a big ask to reset the body clock in order to get the 7 or 8 hours’ sleep in for a productive day the next day.

Unfortunately, when you start your day, it’s probably going to be in the middle of someone else’s, so you can’t afford to come in with matchsticks holding your eyes open and a 2 litre bottle of Lucozade. It’s full on from as soon as you walk in the door, so sleep is needed!

#3 Look Smart


Looking and feeling professional is a big part of life at Charlton Morris. Employees should always be ‘dressed to impress’ and ready to meet a CEO in the event he/she walked in to the office unannounced.

A slight change from the joggers that I would rock up to uni in!

It does help too – from getting on your suit in a morning, you immediately feel as though you’re ready to get stuck into work, and act in a professional way.

Also, suits don’t need to be too expensive. Primani amongst other retailers can sort you out a full suit and shoes for less than £100. Well worth the investment!

#4 Be Organised


This is a skill I’ve acquired that I’ll definitely be taking back with me into final year.

Exec Search requires you to be extremely organised in every part of the job. Whether it’s organising your emails (not having 6000 in your inbox from Groupon) or managing international timezones to arrange intercontinental interviews, it’s absolutely essential.

Having not been the most organised student this was a struggle, but once the habit kicks in to get things done and plan ahead it becomes straightforward. It’s about quality, not quantity and planning ahead allows you to know what you’re doing and when, and gives you a routine to stick to.

#5 Be Sociable


This was the bit that I felt most qualified for!

As a seasoned professional in socialising, that side of the business was something that I took to well. At the risk of sounding too cliched, it is a work hard, play hard atmosphere here, and there’s a lot of emphasis put on the playing.

We’re a really sociable company, and it really helped with integrating and getting to know everyone in my team, and in the wider business. It’s the social aspect to the job which makes the company so tightly knit, and is a great group of people to be a part of!

There’s no disguising the fact that it’s tough to move from Uni to work, but it’s something that you need to adapt to quickly in the job. The people who do the best in this job, placement or graduate, are those that suck it up straightaway, get their head down and throw themselves into it. 

Want to apply? Head back to our main graduate site