Transitioning from Study to the Workplace?

Are You Transitioning from Study to the Workplace

If you have been immersed in academia for the past several years, the notion of suddenly transitioning into the workplace can be overwhelming. From the relative comfort zone of routine, studying and exams to a whole new paradigm and set of rules, you need to be prepared to make the jump to the rest of your professional life.

Transitioning from Study

Before You Even Apply for a Job

Even before you begin a new job, there are certain practical considerations you need to take into account and prepare for. You may never have had to negotiate a salary, but it is a real issue that you may well have to tackle early on.  Before you accept a job, make sure you have been offered a fair salary. Do some research to discover the average salary for someone with your experience, in the particular industry you are starting out in. We have recently published a series of articles on various job sites, and many of them offer salary recommendations based on your qualifications, job type and region.

You will need a superannuation fund, and your employer must pay contributions into your super account. Remember to check your payslip to make sure they are contributing 9.5% of your salary into your super account. When you start a new job, you do not always have to agree to join the super fund that your employer chooses. Simply complete a Super Choice form and hand it to your new employer.

Your Tax File Number (TFN) is unique to you, and the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) (and other government agencies) will often ask for it.

Make sure you add your TFN to all your bank accounts and super fund. Without it, banks and financial institutions must, by law, withhold tax on any interest earned over a certain threshold. This means you could be out of pocket until you lodge a tax return at the end of the tax year.

Transitioning from Study

Prepare for That First Day in the Workplace

Similar to your studies, it is going to pay dividends to a bit of ’revising’ before that first day on the job. Just like at university, taking notes can help you remember important details. You can jot down any rules and ways of doing things so that you are prepared for doing a task independently. Furthermore, write down people’s names – it helps you break through the communication barrier.

Do not expect everything to happen on day one. Things could get a bit anti-climactic. Remember, just because it is your first day, for everyone else, it’s just ‘a day’. People will certainly be helpful, but they have their own job to do, so just watch and observe. There’s no harm in asking for a job or volunteering to do something for somebody. You may be new, but your offer will demonstrate that you’re eager and proactive.

Your enthusiasm will go a long way in helping you to settle in and be part of the team. Show your willingness and pitch in if appropriate, but that said, on your first day, do not try to guess the group dynamics or team culture. You will learn this slowly as you become familiar with your team and get to know your colleagues. Just be willing to participate.

Transitioning from Study

The Workplace Is Not University!

This may seem an obvious statement, but the fact is you will have a lot of learnt habits that you need to shrug off. For example, when studying you were probably used to long timeframes to produce projects or papers, maybe even a year or more, but certainly several months. Suddenly being faced with what be seem unrealistically short deadlines may come as a shock to the system but it something you need to adjust to quickly.  Study was meant to help you improve your critical thinking faculties – work is a function to achieve results for your employer – big difference!


Transitioning from the relative long-term safety of academia into the cutthroat, fast-moving commercial world, with all its targets, team-playing, key performance indicators, and other challenges will be a whole new adventure for you.  It will enrich your life, but you need to be mentally prepared for the seismic shift in your worldview.

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