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From Campus to Corporate: Navigating Life After College




The transition from education into employment has always been a daunting journey for many. For me, it was no different. Upon graduating from the New York University in the height of a global pandemic, I found myself navigating uncharted waters. Finding an opportunity with a steep learning curve, strong leadership, meaningful impact, alignment with my values as an individual, and a positive, diverse work environment proved to be quite challenging.


Upon landing a role at Andarakis, I felt a sense of relief and excitement. However, I quickly discovered that finding the right opportunity was just the tip of the iceberg. Thriving in the corporate world comes with its own set of challenges, ones that I’ve encountered and learned from firsthand. Below I’ve shedded light on some of them, sharing key learnings and success factors, hoping to offer a helpful guide for others embarking on a similar journey.


  • EMPATHY IN ACTION

The main roadblock, transitioning from college to corporate, was behavioural. A successful transition involved acquiring a flexible identity centered on empathy and collaboration. At university, work was done more independently, schedule was self-guided, ideas were discussed after extensive analysis, and value was given based on one’s ability to defend ideas. In corporate, work is done under external constrains and tighter deadlines, feedback is received more frequently, problems are solved collaboratively with input coming from both colleagues and external stakeholders. It is in the context of relationships that most of our subconscious triggers manifest. For example, our perception of authority becomes clearer when navigating challenging interactions and the desire to be right intensifies when feeling vulnerable due to reliance on others. Upon transitioning to consulting, my identity became more fluid. I discovered the necessity of engaging with others with empathy and mobilizing the right “self” at the right time.


  • THE POWER OF PROXIMITY

The saying “you become what you surround yourself with” holds true both in academia and in corporate. The environment in which we operate significantly influences our behaviors, attitudes, and ultimately, our success. I consider myself lucky to have been surrounded by inspiring leaders and extremely knowledgeable colleagues, who have accelerated my growth at Andarakis, shaping my work ethic and creativity. The lack of clear hierarchy and a “corporate ladder” to climb on, has allowed us to exchange knowledge and curate an environment that nurtures growth and fosters genuine relationships that extend beyond the workspace. The safe space created has allowed junior brand strategists like me to ask questions and be continuously curious.


  • THE GREAT ‘WHY’

After college, many of us find ourselves grappling with a loss of purpose, particularly as Gen Zs we increasingly scrutinize capitalism as an inherently flawed system. Amidst this existential uncertainty, it's often challenging to find meaning in our corporate jobs beyond mere monetary gain – a clear 'why' behind what we do.


Overcoming this challenge is always a two-sided game. At Andarakis, I've unearthed a sense of purpose transcending mere financial gain. This was facilitated in several ways. Firstly, mutual trust has played a huge role. The company has entrusted me to work side by side with leading consultants on some of the biggest projects that shape the future of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabic. Within months of joining, I found myself presenting to The Public Investment Fund, a testament to the confidence Andarakis has placed in me.


Additionally, they have taken the time to understand me on a personal level, assigning projects that align with my expertise and interests. For instance, I had the opportunity to spearhead an arts and culture strategy for Seven Entertainment Ventures, allowing me to leverage my creative and analytical skills honed through my double major in Social Research & Public Policy and Theater.


  • MASKS DOWN

In the transition from college to the corporate world, the expectation to conform to a certain image can feel stifling. While college offers freedom from dress codes and expectations, the corporate environment often demands conformity, leading to a sense of losing authenticity. It is a personal belief of mine that in forward-thinking creative companies, individuality is not only accepted but celebrated. With visible tattoos, a nose septum piercing, and a penchant for vibrant attire, my personal expression has not been sacrificed for the sake of professionalism. Whether riding my motorbike or skating to work, I've learned to seamlessly integrate my professional and personal identities, embracing my complexity without compromise.


The journey from campus to corporate is undeniably challenging. In today's rapidly evolving world, I firmly believe that both individuals and companies bear the responsibility of facilitating this transition – to ensure it's as smooth and empowering as possible. Providing the necessary support, such as mentoring, trust, opportunities, and a pathway to authenticity, is crucial. By equipping individuals with what they need, they can unleash their full potential and contribute their best to the organization… and the world.

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