Calling all young professionals! You’ve recently graduated, you’re full of energy, and you’re just about ready to take the world by storm. Entering the career phase in your life, you’ve secured a great entry-level job with big ambitions and #goals for the near future.
…but now what?
The transition from school to the work life ain’t always easy. I mean, how do you go from partying 5 days a week with your college housemates, to being available for an 8:30am call? The good news is, you are not alone. Millions of young professionals are still figuring out the transition, and exactly how to pave your way at work in the real world.
7 Tips to Surviving Your First Real Job
1. Keep it profesh
First and foremost, keep it professional. The basics are key: go to work on time, be punctual for meetings, get your work done, meet deadlines,be polite, and do everything that’s pretty much expected of you right off the bat.
In addition to that, don’t forget about the generational differences. Unless you work at a popping start-up where the old man of the group is 36, you’ll likely be working with more seasoned veterans, not so close to the millennial generation. Keep this in mind, and don’t forget it. There is plenty of stigma associated with millennials: lazy, selfish, spoiled, ENTITLED. Break the stigma and don’t act as our generation preaches. In other words, don’t complain about every little thing. Show that you’re willing to put in work and you’re committed to being there.
2. Education doesn't have to stop there
Young professionals often assume that just because they’re out of school, the education stops there. This is definitely not true. Starting your career is a great time to continue your education and elevate the learning. Expand your thinking by taking up a few classes on the side. Maybe it’s a post-grad certification in your area that’ll help you advance in your role, or maybe it’s enrolling in courses offered through your work. Whatever it may be, continue to stimulate your mind intellectually – both in and out of the office.
3. Keep the weekday partying to a minimum
Ohh the good old weekday parting. Gotta love it. Although this may have been a CLASSIC time while you were in school, it’s a little rough on the body once you’re working full-time. Messy Mondays, Tipsy Tuesdays, Wasted Wednesdays, and Thirsty Thursdays may have once been your BFFs, but it may be time to start moving on. Going out during the week makes it real hard to wake up in the mornings, and head to a full day of work. It’s tough to concentrate and difficult to be productive, because all you want to do PTFO.
Now, no one’s saying you can’t ever party during the week again (because come on, that’s just not realistic). All we’re saying, is keep it to a minimum and try not to go to work hungover 3 times a week. Let’s be honest, throwing up in the bathroom at work isn’t the best look.
4. Patience and persistence, please!
If you’re a super keener (which you probably are, because you’re reading this), then there’s no doubt that you’ve got some big dreams. Whether it’s climbing up the corporate ladder as quick as you can, or making the big dolla billz – patience and persistence are key.
As young professionals, we need to understand that instant gratification may not come as quickly as we like. A huge promotion might take a while, and you actually may have to do some bitch work at first. Don’t let that demotivate or hinder you. You’ve got to put in work. QUALITY work. Over deliver, and do a damn good job.
If you have goals, you need to voice them. It’s important not to expect things to come handed to you – easily and swiftly. Express to your manager what your development needs are, what both your short and long term goals are, as well as what is and isn’t working for you. Be persistent and ask for exactly what you’re looking for. It won’t come tomorrow, but your manager will recognize it when it’s time. (And if you have the type of manager that doesn’t care to help you develop – then get out of there, reallll quick!)
5. Steer clear of negativity
Once you’re all settled in your new job, it won’t take long before you begin to notice your surroundings. It’s unfortunate, but workplace negativity is a real thing. You’ll always find the people who complain, bitch, gossip, and are negative about every little thing. Stay farrrr away from them. As a fresh grad, you’re impressionable. Don’t be swayed by the negativity and don’t get involved with the people who always complain. Maintain clean relationships with everyone, don’t burn any bridges, and stay away from the politics.
So the next time Susie Shittalker comes by your desk, trying to be an instigator, hashtag her away – Jimmy Fallon style. #goodvibesonly #stoptalkingshit #dontyouhaveworktodo? #headphoneson #istoppedlistening10minutesago #justshutupsusie
6. Stay balanced
Probably the most important tip of all: stay balanced.
Work-life balance is kind of a big deal (duh, that’s what our whole website is about!). As a young professional, yes, you’ve got a long way to go. Yes, you have to prove yourself. Yes, you have to put in work. No, that doesn’t mean devote 100% of your time and your health to your job.
It may be tempting for some, to stay way later than they need to, to be online at 1am to show they’re dedicated. That my friends, is just not healthy. Go to work, get your work done, stay until you’re needed, and then GO HOME. There is no need for you to pull 80+ hour weeks if it’s not required of you. Remember, you have a life outside of work, and part of that requires you to be healthy. Find time in your week to work out, eat healthy, meet up with some friends, hang with your family, and do other things that you love! Completely immersing yourself in a work-only lifestyle is a bad habit to pick up, and a tough one to break out of. Start incorporating elements of work-life balance from the very beginning of your career, and you’ll be just fine.
7. Dress the part
The final touch? Dress to impress. Believe it or not, how you dress is not just applicable to the fashion industry. Your attire and your demeanour is what others base their first impressions on, regardless of where you work.
Ladies, keep it classy. If you work in a formal business setting, professional attire is a must. No, that doesn’t mean you need to dress frumpy, unfashionable, or outdated. That means, be chic, sophisticated, well put-together, and tailored. You can still be a total fashionista while you’re at the office. Just watch those hemlines, avoid cleavage-baring tops, and leave the sequin-backless halter for the club.