Earning a degree is a huge feat, something you should celebrate and be proud of. And while the thrill of throwing your cap into the air may not wear off for months to come, it’s important to keep things in perspective when you step foot into the office. The real world is much larger than the classroom, and you will suddenly find yourself dealing with a more varied array of people. Here are a few pointers that will help ease that transition from dorm room to boardroom.
Lose the Sense of Entitlement
You’re on an even playing field with your peers from Day 1 – if anything, you actually have something to prove. So don’t assume that since you have just graduated from a top institute, people are going to give you extra credit; you left that behind in the classroom. Perhaps others will praise you for your stellar education, but that doesn’t give you license to act like a know-it-all or to make even subtle demands about what you need and what you are there for. If you start getting a big head, you’re going to get knocked down a few pegs very quickly. Instead, behave graciously. Don’t assume anything, and go out of your way to be friendly and an eager learner. That will endear you more to your coworkers than the letters behind your name.
Advocate for Yourself
No one in the office will be watching or evaluating you as they did so painstakingly back at the university, so if you don’t assert yourself, you might get overlooked. When you complete a big project, make sure to go over it with your boss. Ensure that your superiors are aware of the work you have done, and show a greater level of involvement by offering to review it with them. Your coworkers are busy people, so if you don’t pipe up just a little bit, they may temporarily overlook your efforts, or worse, dismiss you altogether.
Somewhat of a juxtaposition to our last tip, laying low is important when you first enter a job as a recent grad. Of course, you should never let your office accomplishments fly under the radar – make sure to bring those up with the Big Guy – but you should hang back a little while until you can tune into the vibe of your office. What does this mean? It means that you should figure out how your peers like to work and try to assimilate. Do people like to collaborate on projects? Or do they have a more independent working style? Is the office a casual environment where people sport T-shirts and sandals each day? Or are you expected to wear a suit and tie Monday through Friday? Some of these answers may be fairly obvious at the outset, but it’s important to really get the lay of the land before you inadvertently disrupt the harmony.
Trading in campus, 1PM lectures, and hoodies for the office, 7AM meetings, and starched collars can come as a bit of a shock. But if you keep these simple pointers in mind you’ll pick up the new routine and discover some new joys – office softball leagues, Friday cupcakes from Betty at the front desk, gift exchanges, etc. – in no time!
Here’s to getting older and wiser!
The Doostang Team