Wednesday, 1 February 2017

17. From university to the working world

It’s been about 2 months that I’ve been in the working world. I didn’t have an expectation of how it would be, but one thing I’ve learnt to appreciate about working, which is also humbling, is how it made me realise that the knowledge gained in high school and university is not enough. I’ve realized that there are things I don’t know and understand, that there is more to learn through work experience.

Work experience helps me to apply my mind and to make sense of things practically and logically, unlike when I used to study certain sections for the sake of passing instead of having an in-depth understanding of the concepts. It is understandable why we study like that, though. I for one can testify to that: when there’s not much time to understand concepts and there is just too much to put up with, even worse – when one is not eventually getting the concept, the next best solution is most probably cramming and moving on.

I’m on a 3-month probation period right now as a creditors’ controller. The probation period is a period in which I’m learning and gaining experience. I acknowledge it as a period where I shouldn’t be afraid to ask questions, not be afraid to not know/understand certain things. I should also not be afraid to apply my mind – I still need to prove that I’m fit for the position, that I can be efficient and do my work diligently.

Of course it’s been a challenge learning new things and remembering them. Pride had to be put aside and I had to accept that I don’t know everything – to not be afraid to ask for clarity and understanding of certain things. I took it to the extreme though: going to the manager’s desk every other second where I could have just sent slack messages. ‘Slack’ is an application, very similar to ‘WhatsApp’, that employees use to avoid the need to go to each other’s desk and disturbing each other.

The work experience is giving me the opportunity to have a more in-depth understanding of what I’m doing, not the “crammed” theory. I must say, though, that it has taken some time to get used to certain tasks. I’m still trying to get used to some even today! I’ve gotten better and used to remembering and understanding some things, like:

  • I am the one that captures credit notes and invoices of non-suppliers of stock (like creditors such as Telkom and delivery companies) and not the capturing department as they only deal with suppliers of stock.
  • Knowing how to file invoices and credit notes with creditor statements in preparation for payments (But now I’ve realised there’s no need for this and there’s a more convenient way to confirm balances due to creditors – through creditors reconciliations)
  • Checking the system to confirm whether there is stock that was received with no invoices to ensure that I don’t request for invoices that the capturing department has already requested for; and if they haven’t requested for the invoices, cc the capturing department when emailing creditors to request for invoices – for reconciliation purposes
  • Knowing to which account item invoices and credit notes should be captured on the system depending on what the credit notes and invoices were for
  • Remembering to write down the transaction number that appears after capturing invoices and credit notes as confirmation that they have been captured onto the system.
  • Learning to be patient with suppliers in waiting for credit notes and statements requested: creditors’ reconciliations can’t be completed without them, and that is the most important part of my work
  • Understanding what the variances mean (the reconciling items), investigating why there are such variances between the company’s records and suppliers’ statements and confirming balances due to suppliers

There’s also been times when I’m requested to perform a lot of tasks within a short period of time. During such times, I have to think about what it is that is requested so that I understand what is being asked for and complete the task correctly, instead of being overwhelmed and completing tasks incorrectly. I also saw how better it actually gets when I go on break (like tea break or lunch hour) and come back with a refreshed mind: I’m able to come back to my senses and think logically after getting overwhelmed by the number of tasks I’m requested to do.

When I have a mixture of big tasks and small tasks, I found that it’s convenient to complete small tasks first and complete big tasks bit by bit, otherwise if all the time is put in completing the big tasks, the small tasks may not be completed in due time, and that is not pleasant, more especially for someone like me who is being watched and is on probation.

It takes time to get used to the duties I perform. Through this experience, I’ve realised how important it is for me to be patient – in that I will eventually understand the work and duties over time, and that I’d even find quicker ways to complete certain duties because of having a more in-depth understanding of what I do after having done so many routine duties. The important thing is for the work I do to make logical sense to me so that I can perform the necessary duties correctly and on time.

So, how was your first experience in the working world? Do you think university or school in general prepares us for the working world? Do you find that there is some theory learnt in school that you don't make use of in the working world?

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Until next time :)

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