Besides learning the ropes, getting along with your fellow graduate trainees is going to be that other huge part of your days in the graduate programme

By Emily Loh

Being a graduate trainee can be a bit like orientation week at university all over again. A bunch of fresh-faced eager beavers from different backgrounds being thrown together and expected to work as a team. It can be daunting. On top of having to act like an adult and learn the ropes in a whole new world, you also have to get people to like you. We share a few helpful tips on how to get your social life started while acing your training.


People love resourcefulness! Where are the best places for lunch? Who approves claims? How do you submit requisitions? How does the copier work? Whatever it is – whether work related or not – your fellow trainees and seniors will appreciate someone who seems to know a lot about “everything”. So put yourself out there as one in the know or when you don’t, will always get an answer.


A helping hand is always appreciated. Keep an eye out for stressed-out fellow trainees, busier-than-usual colleagues or someone who has been tasked to take on more. Or take the initiative to find out if there is something you can do, like say help decorate the office for Christmas or stuff those envelopes going out to potential clients.


Every programme could do with a Mister or Miss Fun. The graduate training programme fills your work hours but what about after-work activities? Organise a badminton friendly, after-work drinks, group lunches or whatever it is that brings the group together. It’s a great way to connect with your fellow trainees on a deeper level – plus well, have some fun.


Sign up for things outside your comfort zone. Maybe you’re not a sporty person or you don’t like Japanese food but at least give it a try. People who are willing to get uncomfortable are better able to accept different points of views and accept those who are different.


At some point in your training, your mentor will probably tell you the same – be curious, don’t be afraid to ask questions, be thirsty for knowledge. Well, the same applies to your social life except you are asking a different set of questions. Everyone loves an audience; give them one. Show genuine interest in your colleagues and give them the chance to talk about themselves.


Remember the first day of school? Did you gravitate to the kids who were bawling their eyes out or the ones who seemed to be having the best time of their lives? It’s the same at work. In a group of overachieving or nervous fresh graduates, someone who looks friendly, is relaxed and genuinely nice will naturally attract others. It isn’t just about your smile; make sure your whole body is speaking an open, friendly lingo.


There are bound to be mean people. Not everybody is going to appreciate your efforts or your friendliness. But don’t get pulled into their world of nastiness because it is not worth it. He or she could be genuinely mean or maybe just going through a bad patch. It is best to simply play it nice and keep your distance.


There is a difference between being nice and being a pushover. Remember, your game plan has to be sustainable. You cannot premise your entire personality around being the “yes” man or woman to everyone. If you find you are always the one giving in or bending over backwards for others then you are definitely doing too much to be liked. Take a step back and learn to say no some times.


If you have been making all this effort, you are bound to be getting access to some people. Fellow trainees could be opening up to you or sharing their interests. Don’t just leave it at that. Take your connections deeper by looking for opportunities to follow up on what you know. If someone mentions a sick parent, remember to ask after his health. If you promised to loan a book, bring it. You never know when one of them will become your next BFF.


And finally, be genuine because most people can sniff out fakes from a distance – a very long distance. So while you are making a lot of effort to engineer friendships, don’t forget to pair it with a genuine interest in others and a great attitude.

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