Preparing for the transition from classroom to workplace

PUBLISHED : Friday, 10 September, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 10 September, 2010, 12:00am

When the new term begins, most final-year university students have to turn their thoughts to job hunting, in addition to coursework. They must start to prepare themselves for the coming transition from classroom to workplace.

'Every type of work involves communication, which makes skills like relationship building and teamwork very important,' says Lawrence Cheng Tan-shui (left), a movie producer, screenwriter and former radio host who also conducts talks and training programmes to help young people improve their communication and presentation skills. 'Even if you work in the field of technology and sit in front of a computer all day, you still need to communicate and co-operate effectively with your supervisors and colleagues. You need to know what type of person your boss is and see how to approach him or her to discuss key issues. This skill is essential and will affect your career.'

Cheng says that young adults commonly make certain mistakes when they first encounter possible employers. They don't prepare well enough and they don't think about things thoroughly before taking on specific tasks. Recalling his time in radio, he says that time taught him the importance of writing down and reviewing his script before going on air. Modified for different situations, that is something he still practises today.

'I learned that from my mentor, Winnie Yu [the deputy chairman of Commercial Radio],' says Cheng, who last month spoke to graduate trainees from Sky100, which will soon open as the highest indoor observation deck at the International Commerce Centre. 'You should not casually say whatever comes into your head. You have to prepare your comments and make sure they are organised and logical.'

He also says appearance and etiquette are important factors in impressing others. Young people, especially those working in the customer service sector, have to be aware of their body language and choice of outfit.

'Once you step into your workplace, you are on the stage and have to perform well,' he says. 'You have to put on a smile, look attractive, and be pleasant and confident.' Cheng admits it is not easy to change the mindset of younger people. They must understand what others expect and be willing to invest time in improving themselves, even if it is a long process.

Tips from Cheng

Read books, read faces, and read the world

Ask why before moving on to how

Don't just follow others; add your own element