Graduation was mere weeks ago. Congratulations on your accomplishments and – if you’ve found one – starting your new “real job.”
Your campus’ career center and/or family and friends may have given you lots of great advice and guidance when it came to finding that job, but how many of these folks told you what it’s really like to work in the “real world”? Not too many, probably, since your and their main focus was on finding a job.
But now it’s just a few days since you started – or will start. Here are two tips to help you thrive in today’s workplace.
- It’s called work for a reason.
Sure, you’ve no doubt heard that phrase before. And that’s because it’s true. You will have to show up on time, dressed appropriately, take 30- or 60-minute lunch break (and only 30 or 60 minutes), do just about everything your boss asks you to do (even if it’s not in your job description), get along with coworkers who may come from extremely different personalities and backgrounds/world views than you do, and deal with the public in some form. Plus you have to provide value to your employer: it’s not about your needs and career dreams, it’s about your employer’s goals. Remember that (and help your employer meet those goals) and your employer will help you meet yours.
Here’s an example of what not to do/attitude to take (and it’s a true story): A young woman fresh out of college had been in her new job about six months. She lived near the office and often went home for lunch.
One day she didn’t come back until 2:30 p.m., telling her boss she ended up taking a nap and overslept. Her boss said that was unacceptable behavior and she needed to be back “on time.” “Pay me more,” she said, “and I’ll be sure to be back on time.”
Needless to say, she was able to go home immediately to continue that nap.
- Try to learn as much as possible about the company’s goals and challenges.
Continuing on with the “help your employer meet his goals” strategy, understand that the best employees always want to know more about their employer’s company, long-term plans, etc. They are eager to learn new things (take your employer up on workshops, seminars, certification program offers, etc.) and they volunteer to work on projects and tasks not in their job description.
That said, here’s another caveat and another true story: Make sure you volunteer for more only if it doesn’t interfere with what you were hired to do. Don’t, in other words, be the young man who asked his boss if he could do XYZ in addition to his ABC duties. The boss said yes and the young man did the extra work well, but neglected the work for which he was hired, the work his boss needed done. His boss ended up firing him.
This is an exciting time for you: the workplace is a new world and you’re eager to make your mark within it. You will find roadblocks on your way and you may find yourself taking two steps back in order to move one step forward. That’s OK and par for the course. Learn from your mistakes. Never give up. Help others. Be of value. Ask for mentors. Take on challenges and risks. Never become complacent. Thrive!
If you’re looking for a job out of college or high school, contact the Helpmates office nearest you. You can also take a look at our current job and career opportunities. Welcome to the workplace and much good luck to you!