Welcome to Reality:
Tips for Young Professionals Adjusting to the Working World
There are so many things they don’t tell you in college about what it’s like out there- out there in the stodgy corporate environment, or the trendy agency life, or the office that pretends to be trendy but is actually quite stodgy in reality… Regardless of the atmosphere, you work in or the type of work you do, everyone goes through the same- for lack of a better word- crap, especially when you first enter a new job.
I can attest to this because I have experienced the transition into a workplace three times this year. And while that may not sound very promising, I truly feel like I made all the right moves on my career path thus far. However, I must admit that I have made a plethora of mistakes along the way. So, with that being said, I hope to share some of the lessons I’ve learned and some tips for success when adjusting to the working world. I have also asked a few friends to help me answer the fairly vague but meaningful question: how do you survive the working world?
Kelly Rinnas, age 23, responded
“What I find to be key in keeping a healthy work-life balance. I make a very conscious effort to not take my work home with me. To live a happy life, you need to have ‘me time,’ and that is exactly what my evenings and weekends are for.”
Matt Froese, 25, said
“Knowing how to deal with stress is key. Having a hobby or activity outside of work that allows me to zone out and let my worries go, especially one that involves physical exercise, helps me release all that built-up stress.
Learning to differentiate between someone who ‘woke up on the wrong side of the bed,’ and someone who is actually mad is important. I try to be able to let things go; it is work after all, and people are just trying to do their jobs and get things done. It’s (usually) nothing personal.
No one loves 100% of their job 100% of the time, so make the best of it. Having good coworkers makes a huge difference, and having some of those coworkers be my friends is even better.”
Anonymous, age 26
“Put in face-time with your boss, don’t pretend to know everything, and try to anticipate what your boss wants next and have it already done when they ask.”
As for me, I have a few pointers myself:
Make friends in the office, but don’t become too friendly too soon.
It is extremely important to know your boundaries when it comes to working friendships. My very first job out of college is when I made the mistake of trusting a coworker too soon. This individual had the tendency to twist peoples’ words and pass them along to others with a negative connotation. She was the type who only had her best interest in mind, and wasn’t afraid to sabotage others in order to gain power within the company. Regardless, it is always best to vent about work-life to your significant other, therapist, or diary- not your coworkers. You will learn over time which people at work you can trust and who you can gossip with but always err on the side of caution.
Don’t take things too personally.
This is not something I have mastered yet, nor is it something I feel I will master any time soon. I am a sensitive person who takes things to heart, but there isn’t much room for emotions in the workplace. My best advice to develop a thicker skin at work would be to not over-think things that your coworkers or managers say, don’t read email responses with a specific tone (chances are, the person emailing you isn’t trying to be sassy or demeaning, so don’t add unnecessary attitude to an electronic message), and if you receive constructive criticism from your manager, accept it, remember it, and move on with your day.
Take some breaks.
After sitting in a swivel chair and staring at a computer screen for four hours straight, sometimes you need a little break. Get up, walk around and chat with some coworkers, grab a coffee… Whatever you choose to do, you deserve a few 10-15 minutes “pleasant interruptions” in your day.
Ask for help.
No one is perfect, and you will realize soon after starting a new job, that you physically can’t do everything flawlessly. We all make mistakes and we all need guidance at times. When you don’t know the answer to something work-related, don’t be afraid to ask.
Pat yourself on the back once in a while.
Not literally. That would be weird. But feel free to recognize your accomplishments and be proud. Did you work a long, stressful 60 hour week? Reward yourself- you earned it.
Overall, remember that work is really only one aspect of your life, but it is a large component in which you spend the vast majority of your time. So, create strong relationships with the people you work with, learn from everyone you encounter, and keep moving along in this crazy, busy working world.