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artificialard's avatar

Tips for a fresh grad starting my first 'real' job?

Asked by artificialard (2273points) June 4th, 2009

I’m pretty much finished my bachlors degree and was lucky enough to find my first real ‘full-time job’ doing working on internet projects for a small but reputable marketing/PR firm.

I’ve actually been working for a decade now, first at computer store then just as a freelance computer administrator. But that was all part-time and a lot less structured and very self-directed. i.e. I’m one of those Gen Y slackers that gets up at 3PM and has a burrito for breakfast reads some blog, and calls it a day.

I’m excited but a little nervous about this new ‘adult’ job so I’d appreciate any tips, advice, and stories as a really enjoy those stuff I wish I knew when I was 21 kind of questions and would like the same kinda input about the work-life-post-college transition.

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10 Answers

YARNLADY's avatar

Perform the work to the best of your ability, always give more than the employer expects or deserves, don’t expect any favors from the employer.

mcbealer's avatar

Create a budget, and save as much of your disposable income now as you can, making building up a savings of 9 months of living expenses your ultimate goal.

DarkScribe's avatar

Don’t be a “know it all” A lot of recent grads feel a need to prove themselves and can really get up people’s noses if they aren’t careful. I have a young female intern at the moment who challenges everything, usually beginning with the words “I’ve just graduated and we were taught…” Try to learn from others, don’t try to match or surpass them.

dynamicduo's avatar

Good, glad to hear you’re getting a job in this economy.

The first and most obvious tip is to start investing in your retirement, even if it’s dinky money ($100 a month, but more is better). Go look up the magic of compound interest – basically you will get tons of free money by starting to invest at your age compared to starting when you are in your 30s. I’m talking hundreds of thousands of dollars here. And if you get used to the deduction each paycheque, it will be easier to add more and more to it as you climb the ladder. This is the #1 best thing I could tell you. The second tip is of course work on saving enough money to live on for 6 months at least. But don’t start pouring your money into savings if it deprives you of living a life.

Some general observations about the adult life (I was in your position a year and a bit ago). Your work will become a rock in your life, so treat it with respect. Never be late, this never helps you. You will have very limited hours to “live” on weekdays and the weekends will blow by in minutes, so it takes a lot of discipline to manage your time. It can be very easy to feel worthless by reading blogs and doing nothing in the evenings, then sleeping and returning to work, so I highly urge you to put down the computers some evenings and focus on a hobby.

Due to the lack of time, it can also be hard to keep fit and eat properly. Especially if you’re a microwave burrito kind of person. Combined with the wage increase, you may be really tempted to eat out every night, but I can promise you this is running down the path of temptation and it will get you nowhere fast (read: you’ll quickly become fat and sassy and that sometimes leads into depression).

Look carefully at your health plan you have at work and take advantage of it as much as you can. For instance, mine (note I’m in Canada) includes an amount for therapeutic massages, so I take advantage of that.

About the working world: try your best and ask for help before you dig yourself into a hole too deep. No one expects you to be perfect, it’s OK to ask questions as long as you give it a first good hearted attempt. Treat everyone with respect and you shouldn’t have any problems. Oh, a tip, depending on your company you may have to play the office politics game to get ahead in your career, but there ARE places where this is considered ridiculous, so if it tires you, rest assured not every place is the same.

SirBailey's avatar

Don’t say anything bad about anyone there, especially the boss. It WILL get back.

marinelife's avatar

The best way to adapt to the work world, especially the culture of your company, is to observe closely.

Look at colleague’s and see who is doing well and what are they doing: how do they dress, how and when do they interact with the boss, etc.

People will also be observing you. You have to earn their respect. As a rookie, the way to do that is to work hard, be pleasant, spend more of your time listening than commenting on things. Be interested in other jobs and what the company does as a whole (as well as your little piece of it).

Remember that colleagues are not friends. This is not to say that some people cannot become your friends, but the workplace has its own dynamic and its own rules, and each person working there has their own motivations.

Don’t discuss what you are making with anyone even if they ask you a direct question.

Congratulations on your job!

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

Realize that in the work place, seniority is the rule. No one likes some snot-nosed upstart telling them how things were done when the newbie was in school. Real life experience trumps book learning in the real world, unless you are a rocket scientist.

Warpstone's avatar

Dress up. Really, it helps. I’m not saying wear a suit if the work place is business casual, but you do want to look credible. If you can wear a tie at work, do it! People over 45 will take you more seriously and will atleast appreciate you for trying to respect the professional environment they work in.

RedPowerLady's avatar

1. Professional Attire will get you a long way even when it is not required. I do not mean suit and tie but rather “work casual” at the least.
2. Your boss is always right. Even when they are not. You can approach it when they are “wrong” but you must be very clever about how you do it. Unfortunately most workplaces work from hierarchy.
3. Do not joke about the times you mess up (oh man I really messed that one up, or how did i do that) because you will find co-workers may use that to their advantage. In fact it can come back to bite you in the butt in many ways. Acknowledge your mistakes quickly and fix them immediately.
4. Remember that your co-workers are your competitors however evil that sounds. That can be your great friends but don’t be surprised when they forget to back you up on that new idea or call you out when they are getting in trouble.
5. Your behavior outside your job will reflect on your job.
6. Keep conversations professional. Don’t talk as if you would with your buddies when you are at work. You can have a good time and still talk about fun things, just set a bit of a boundary for yourself.
7. Set professional boundaries in advance. You do not work on Sundays for example. Working over-time or during special events or to cover a co-worker is great and will advance you at work. But you also will earn respect by having professional boundaries. This also includes how you relate to your clients.
8. Here’s a neat one. Before asking your boss questions, or a co-worker, try to find the answer yourself. Look at old documents to see how they were done, etc.. You will be respected for doing so. Along the same lines, make sure you fully understand a job before you start it and always, always, always re-check your work even it if takes some time to do so.

Having said all that, there is still something to be said for being a bit of a rebel ;)

artificialard's avatar

A lot of GAs were thrown around here, thank you everyone for the very insightful tips. To be honest I’ve come across most of these at one time or another but it’s very helpful to have the pertinent ones highlighted for me now.

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