Skills that transform a graduate into an employee
- Charlie Taylor
On resilience, team working and adapting to new challenges, Charlie Taylor, founder of Debut, outlines the skills that will kickstart your career
What are the most important skills graduates need when making the transition to employee?
I think energy and resilience. You’d be surprised how the people who are full of energy and very proactive come across to their managers and can be very helpful. It’s also great in interviews if you come across as very energetic and passionate. But the most important is resilience. There will be so many times in first few years of a grad career where perhaps you might fail an exam or not receive recognition for something. It’s not necessarily that people aren’t recognising you, so you really need to be resilient and patient, and just plough on.
What makes one employee stand out from the rest?
The people who shine at Debut are those who gel with other people and don’t try to compete with them. We are there to work with other people and get along in a team; often people start in their careers trying to be the best in everything they do, when instead they should look sideways to help one another. I think those that usually stand out and shine are those who are quite humble, have a strong work ethic, can keep a vision of what the company is aiming for, but get there by working together.
What networking techniques do you use build lasting relationships?
I like to work with a diverse bunch of people and the best way to build relationships I think is to be able to relate to other people. So the first thing you need to do is gel with them and the best way to do that is to relate to things they do and build up some rapport. Whether your common ground is food, sport, travel or a language you want to learn, just the fact that you’ve taken an interest will help you build that relationship. This way people feel that you understand them, they start to relax, then you can bring out the humour and you quickly start to build that relationship.
I want to start a business but I want to gain experience in the corporate world. When’s the best time to leave?
Working at EY first was ideal for me. It’s given me the ability to understand organisations and processes, and to work in an environment where people have very high expectations of you. It really hones your mind, your strategic thinking and your execution – which when you start a business are really key skills. The execution of an idea, deploying it, making it right, building it, getting the right team in place – all these are governed by how you think and deal with things. A corporate environment gives really good training in those things, and in self-awareness. In an ideal world you’d spend two-to-three years in a corporate environment where you’re heavily tested and pushed hard, then you come out and can start your own business with good grounding.
Have you ever had to sacrifice something truly important to you to get to where you are? If so, would you do anything differently given the chance?
I definitely sacrificed things to be where I am today. There’s only so much time in the day and it comes down to you understanding what your priorities are, what you want to achieve and where you want to be. And then you have to be very clinical, stick to your decisions, act on them and move forward with them. It gets dangerous when you try and please everyone, it takes a lot of courage for you to say this is what I want do. There will be instances where other things perhaps start to fall behind, but you need to be fair to yourself and fair to other people and say very early on what you’re going to be doing. I would just say start early, understand your priorities, communicate them and then stick to them.
What advice would you give students who are about to graduate but still don't have a clear idea about their future careers?
Turn to people who are very close to you and let them help you understand what you’re good at and your strengths, because it is quite difficult to be self-aware at that age. Then combine that with your own personal preferences, start networking with people and then reinforce that with some work experience or voluntary work in those areas.
How have you adapted to new challenges you’ve noticed emerge in the world of business?
There are lots of things that started in tech and with that comes a challenge and an opportunity; it’s a very competitive space and ideas are being generated to compete with you all the time. So it’s about having that unique selling point amongst direct competitors; that’s how you’re going to gain investment, that’s how you’re going to make a great team and also how you’re going to attract customers.
Charlie joined EY after graduating and became a senior consultant in its international trade team. EY gave Charlie the connections and opportunities to kickstart his own business, and in February 2015 Charlie founded Debut, the world's first careers app dedicated to students. Debut benefited from EY's 18-month Accelerate programme for UK start-ups, and in April it won the support of Google Developers and became a Launchpad start-up. To find out more about Debut, please visit: debut.careers