Most industries (if not all) hire college graduates. And despite making the rest of us feel old, college graduates bring new life and curiosity into the work place. They still have the student mentality where free food gets their attention, and they love the fact that having a job means no homework. But there is a transition from student to employee that takes time. Some are quick studies, others are not. I’m not sure exactly what I was, but I do know I wish someone would have handed me a cheat sheet as I entered the work force as I made my fair share of errors. With that said, this is our cheat sheet – the list of things we wished that other people told us when we were first starting out.
1. Trust that your experience is an asset. You’ve been hired because of your experience, and while that seems daunting and you may wonder what exactly you have to offer, trust that you have something to offer. Share your opinion. Speak up in meetings.
2. Be as observant as you can. Watch when people come in, what they wear, how they handle meetings, when they take notes…watch all of it! Especially watch what your boss does so you know what is appropriate or what your boss may appreciate.
3. Ask questions. Take advantage of any opportunity to ask a question, especially if you are alone with your boss or someone high up in your company. The only stupid question is the one that isn’t asked. Seriously.
4. The people you work with are important. If you like them or become friends, it can buoy you through rough times at work. Likewise, if you have a great boss, they can open up opportunities you wouldn’t have had otherwise.
5. You won’t always love your job. You’re lucky if you love it sometimes! That doesn’t mean you’re in the wrong place or doing the wrong thing. Every job is a learning experience so make sure you get the most out of it that you can!
6. Say yes to new experiences. You may have to eat in for the next week to afford it, but say yes to doing something new. This is especially important if it is with new friends and/or will get you out of your comfort zone. While you are unattached (no husband/wife/partner/kids), it is the easiest time in your life to just say yes to anything and everything. While being attached can be absolutely amazing and rewarding, saying yes just gets harder and requires more planning (though it still can be done).
7. Take your vacation. Travel and go see the world. Don’t leave your vacation days until the end of the year. There are so many things you can do within a budget as well, so don’t let money be the reason why you don’t go exploring. Take a break!
8. Don’t waste time on people who don’t reciprocate. We know they helped you that one time freshman year, or saved you from that awful party, or crammed with you for that midterm – but that doesn’t mean you have to dedicate a weekend to them for their birthday or always be the one to reach out. Some relationships are just that – moments in time that you treasure, but that is all. Yes, it is sad, but that’s ok – learning this now will save you some awkward moments in the future.
9. You don’t have to have it all figured out. Enjoy the moment at your new job. You may stay a long time and you may not. The only way to know is to stick around and put your all into it.
10. Be kind. If you decide to end a friendship, leave a relationship or even leave a job, be kind in how you handle that transition. You never know when you’ll end up seeing those people again; and who knows, maybe you will want to end up at your same company but in a different role in the future. Leave your options open, and to do that, you must be kind.
What else would you tell your 22 year old self if you could?!
Becca & Tiffany