Transitioning from university mindset
Transitioning from university mindset

By Hari Sharma (Aakash)

Fri Apr 12 2024

Transitioning from University Mindset & Habits to a Value Adding Professional

Imagine walking into a meeting or workshop 10 minutes late. What impression does that make? If you’re aiming to establish yourself as a professional, this seemingly small slip-up could significantly damage your professional image.

In my work with many international students and graduates, I have observed common challenges they face in securing their first professional job. This struggle is often attributed to factors such as cultural differences, communication challenges, skills gap, and a lack of local experience. While these reasons are valid, I have noticed that mindset also plays a significant role here.

Drawing on my experience as a former international student, I’ve been in your shoes and know the challenges of shifting from a reactive to a proactive mindset. It’s not easy, but it’s crucial to look for solutions, add value to your organization, and take initiative beyond just following instructions. Here are some tips that helped me make the transition more smoothly and effectively:

Be Punctual

Arrive on time for workshops, training, meetings, networking events, mentoring sessions, or even casual catch ups. Factor in the time it takes for you to arrive, park your car, extra time for traffic jams and any other things that could go wrong. It’s always best to be 10 minutes early than 10 minutes late. This demonstrates that you are punctual and respect others’ time. Use a calendar (or reminders app) so that you don’t forget those events and meetings.

Work on your Personal Brand

Swap the ripped grunge Jeans (or the casual wear) for professional attire. If you want to be a professional, dress professionally, act professional. Optimise your LinkedIn profile to showcase your professional brand, stay active, and update regularly. Communicate professionally.


Employers often think that international students and graduates are disconnected with the local culture, people and lack the understanding of workplace culture. Go to networking events. Volunteer. Connect with more people, communicate and understand local culture and workplace culture. This will broaden your horizon, give you more understanding of the local culture and people.

Take Ownership. Be Proactive, Not Reactive

Whether you are with your friends/ colleagues in a barbeque function, or volunteering in a local community event- be proactive. Contribute in any way you can- don’t wait for others to tell you what to do. Being proactive is an amazing habit and it sets you apart in the professional world as well. Anticipating needs and addressing problems before they escalate shows leadership and foresight. Don’t wait for directions; take initiative to improve processes or solve problems as they arise. This proactive attitude is often what leads to promotions and recognition.

Be Responsive and Approachable

Do you take days to respond to an email? How responsive are you when questions are asked, do you show that you are approachable? When you demonstrate that you are responsive, reliable, approachable and can solve problems- you are a great asset and it shows your professionalism.

It’s Not About Grades - It’s About Results

In university, success is often measured by grades and test scores. However, in the professional world, it’s all about results. Employers value employees who can contribute to the organisation’s goals through actionable outcomes. This means thinking beyond just completing tasks to understanding how your contributions impact the broader business objectives.

Solving Problems, Not Just Looking for a Job

Building a career is more than securing a job. It’s about continuously seeking ways to solve problems and add value. This mindset not only enhances your prospect to land in your first job but also sets the foundation for future opportunities. Become a problem solver, have a great attitude, be approachable, be professional and be seen. Job will find you.

If you are an accounting student or a graduate and need some career guidance or mentoring, please feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn here.

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