From being a student to becoming an employee

Written by Corey Kemp - 25 February 2020

Table with laptops

As part of National Careers Week, Corey Kemp explains how the support of CMI is helping him successfully move from his studies to the workplace.

The prospect of becoming a graduate after four years is both a daunting and exciting thought.

After four years of studying a CMI accredited degree, I was ready to dive into the professional world feet first. I had completed a year in industry and so the thought of working full-time didn’t seem as scary as it would’ve done otherwise.

However, there was a realisation that ending my university experience would require me to nurture the skills I had developed as a student and put these to good use in the workplace.

I joined a Local Enterprise Partnership as a Project Management Officer in June this year. I couldn’t wait to get started. I felt that my experiences at university would make it a seamless transition.

The reality was that I had to think on my feet the minute I entered the office. My work environment is dynamic in terms of what is going and the fact that I was not well-versed in some of the different projects made it difficult for me to contribute.

I believe this is often the challenge for new graduates. The strength of your academic achievements gives you the confidence to apply for new jobs but the reality is that when you enter the workplace, there is still a lot to learn.

The truth is that the graduate transition is the process of applying academic knowledge in practice. This is where my membership and experience studying with the CMI was crucial. The CMI helped me to think outside of the academic environment, where there is an emphasis on ‘knowing your stuff’. The wealth of CMI’s management material and Continuing Professional Development (CPD) resources indicated that you need to have a working skillset to adapt to the working environment.

This is the value of being a CMI member: You become a well-rounded professional, not just an academic. The combination of knowledge from my course and the workplace skills I can apply from my CMI membership is the answer to making a successful transition into graduate life and ensures I am ready to continue my professional development in line with the needs and expectations that my employer will have of me.

In my opinion, having the support of CMI’s resources has made me resilient to the challenges I have faced since leaving university and make me feel prepared for the barriers I expect to come across as I grow in my career. For example, I have accessed the mentoring scheme to begin to ask questions about how to navigate professionally. As an ambitious future leader, this helped me to keep perspective on my entry-level employment and think about the bigger picture of how I can grow as a manager moving forward in my career.

Six months into my role, I have matured into graduate employment. As I am writing this, I have been able to meet with external project managers to discuss future plans. I have had to be patient up until this point to gain the trust of my colleagues and take on responsibility but through studying a CMI-accredited course, I was fundamentally prepared for this transition process.

My advice to new graduates is to be prepared and remain patient. It can be frustrating being the younger member of the workplace and feeling like you have to wait for your opportunity to showcase your potential but make sure you are ready for when this opportunity arises. Don’t forget that university wasn’t a mutually exclusive experience from the workplace. Rack your brain for all the workshops, lectures and societies you attend and make sure you use these skills to help you adapt and develop. Identify where you can make the most impact and the projects you want to be involved in, and learn all you can about them. Your ability to apply your knowledge to the context of the challenges faced by the business will be what impresses people.

Being part of CMI’s community can really help with this. Knowing I have the wider resources, from reading the latest Insights articles, or working towards Chartered status, helps to give me a pathway of how I can grow in my career and means I am fully ready to make the most of whatever comes my way and get to the next step of my journey as a new manager.

CMI-accredited degrees boost graduate employability, with 87% of CMI graduates telling us they are in employment six months after graduation, with 94% employed in professional roles. Find out more about studying a CMI-accredited course or check out CMI’s Future Leaders network to get tailored support on moving from your studies to the workplace.


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Corey Kemp

BA Hons Business Studies Graduate - Bournemouth University. Working as a Project Management Officer for a local LEP

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