“I got the job!”
It puts such a smile on my face when I’m browsing through Twitter and I see those tweets. I, too, remember when I received my email to say I got the job and that I can start working as soon as possible. Not only had I managed to survive that dreadful stage of job hunting where you even question whether you have studied the right course or not, but I was thrilled to officially be kickstarting my career, getting into the workplace and making my own coin. Breakfast meetings, financial independence, Loerie award after-parties – I was here for it!
For the most part, I was in for a rude awakening. I’m all for personal growth and development, so within the first year and half of my career, I managed to get my hands on a couple of books which I figured I needed to bond with: Leave Your Mark by Aliza Licht and Corporate Survival Guide For Your Twenties by Kayla Buell. These books offered pretty good guidance in terms of what to expect in your first job, how to overcome workplace challenges and generally valuable hints and tips. Whether you’re in a big corporate or a small agency, a law firm or a newsroom, the workplace dynamics are relatively similar. So I put together 5 tips to surviving the workplace. And these are handy even if you aren’t going into a new job per se; 3 years into my career and I still feel like I have to remind myself of the below on a regular basis.
1. You Weren’t Hired To Win Miss Congeniality
Not to say make it a pastime to rub people up the wrong way or live in solitary confinement at your desk, but remember what comes first: your job which needs to get done to the best of your ability. The occasional catch-up with colleagues in the canteen is harmless but avoid being MIA from your workstation for longer than necessary because you’re somewhere else chatting up a storm. You’d actually be quite surprised as to how observant the people around you are. The last thing you want is to miss out on a great opportunity to take a step forward in your career because your superiors think you aren’t as dedicated to your work as you should be.
2. The Art Is Not In Making Money, But In Keeping It
You’re a working class citizen now so come lunch hour, you want to pop out to Woolworths for a coffee and a croissant with bacon and avocado. Or to Kauai for a Princess Wrap and smoothie. Come month end, you’re wondering if maybe the bank didn’t embezzle some of your money because something is not adding up. You’ll be very surprised at how these seemingly little things accumulate. Carry some lunch from home or take a nutritional shake in the morning that will sustain you. It’s also never too early to think medium to long term financial goals. If you aren’t good with manually putting money aside, consider creating a stop order with your bank for the money to go into some sort of an investment account. Research your options and bear in mind the limitations with immediate accessibility of some of the investment options available.
3. Be a Goal Digger
If you work in a space where your boss cares about your growth (which is absolutely GREAT if they do and can be the pits if they don’t), then they will want to see you move forward. And if they aren’t aware of which direction you want to go, then they can’t help or guide you to get there. That also means you must be proactive in taking on additional tasks, doing the tasks you are given as best you can and seizing any training opportunities which might be available to you. However, if they couldn’t be bothered about your growth, then your attempts at excelling in your job will go unnoticed or possibly be interpreted as a “threat” to them and their career.
4.Keep Your Finger On The Pulse
Make it a habit to read up on what is happening in your industry. Not only is this an easy way of expanding your own knowledge but if you share what you read, whether in conversation or in a link via email, you help others expand their knowledge too. You’re also seen as a valuable employee who cares about knowing more than just the tasks to do for the day. Challenge yourself to read one or two industry related articles a week. LinkedIn is a great space to do so if you subscribe to the relevant people, pages and hashtags. Another great platform which publishes really informative articles and has become my personal favourite is Bizcommunity.
5. Always Remain Teachable
You’ve graduated with your degree and now you think you can walk right into a senior position, right? Not really. You’ll most likely start at the bottom, but that’s great because then it means that you have opportunities and reasons to absorb as much as you can from those around you. A positive attitude and humility can go a long way in doing that. Coming across as arrogant or a Know It All is a quick way to annoy those who actually came from a good place and were willing to assist you become better at what you do. I also believe that everyone around you has something to teach you – whether they directly or indirectly do it. Meaning, it won’t always be a case of “Come here, let me show you x y and z”, but sometimes, just being perceptive of what goes on around you and how matters are handled will be a valuable lesson in itself.