Archive | October, 2012

One Year Recap: Life Outside College and How to Truly Embrace Your First Job – PART ONE

2 Oct

A few days ago, I had my first pumpkin spice latte of the season. Only after that first warm, delicious sip did I truly celebrate the one year anniversary of me starting my first job out of college.

Last year at this time, I stopped by the local Dunkin Donuts and sipped that exact same drink as I made my very first one hour commute from my grandparents’ house, where I was living after graduating, to my new job. Though I’m not too slow to adapt to new surroundings, the first week of anything new is usually a huge shock to my system – so much so that my memory usually is completely wiped of that first week. I don’t think I remember more than five memories of my first full year of high school after moving, which was by far the worst mental shock I’d been through. I can’t tell you what I did that first week of my job, but I can tell you this: I was terrified and excited at the same time. I remember staring at my cubicle and having tears well up in my eyes as I thought to myself, “Is this my life for the next forty-some years? Waking up early, trudging to work and staring at grey cubicle walls? Am I cut out for this?”

I have been brutally honest to the several friends that I have who are still in their senior year of college: Graduating and having your first job is a very rude awakening. In fact, it’s best described as a serious of ruthless smacks on the face and shoves into concrete walls that continue for at least two months, maybe more. The beauty, however, is that each day as your brain and heart and body get pushed around, you are transforming into the best person you’re going to be. In a special two part series, I’m going to touch upon a few of the experiences I have had so far a year into my job and how I dealt with them. I truly hope this provides comfort and knowledge to others in similar situations.

pumpkin spice latte

The only time of the year when I’m totally okay spending money on coffee every day.

Making Office Friends

I am the kind of person who wants to be friends with everyone. When I jumped into my job, I was faced with a very tight-knit group of girls in my marketing department who all seemed to have their own inside jokes and interesting stories to talk about. I felt so alone and left out, and it was mostly because (here comes the tip, people!) I was comparing it to college. Only now have I put both things together, but it’s true: In college, it is pretty safe to say that everyone is there to make friends, and it’s pretty darn easy to do it. In the workforce, it’s a bit different. People come and go and there aren’t activities to really ease yourself into friendship like school does, so it’s a completely different approach. My best advice is to be cordial and nice and let the relationships with your co-workers develop slowly. Once you get really comfortable there (and for me it took about seven months), you will loosen up and talking to co-workers will come naturally.  I was pretty shy when I started, and now I joke around and waste time talking to people as much as the next person.

Expand Outside of Your Department

If you work in a medium to large-sized company, there’s a high possibility of you never really speaking to anyone outside of your own department. In your first year, make a mental effort to change that. You will come upon a time where you will have to call someone in another department for help or to assist you in a project, so use that time to your advantage and let yourself become a familiar face to them. Here’s an extra special tip: Befriend your IT department. They are usually full of the coolest, most laid back people and are super approachable. They also will give you extra special treatment when you are having computer issues or need access to top-secret things, such as the color printer or the privacy-protected mobile wifi access.

Don’t Date a Co-Worker

Don’t do this. Let me repeat: Don’t do this. Ever. Ever ever. Even if, like me, you think that it helps you to relate more the next time you read Bridget Jones’s Diary. Dating a co-worker makes the workplace awkward because you have to watch your every move. Word will spread faster than wildfire that you are involved in an office romance and it could potentially ruin your professional appearance and job. In my case, I didn’t start a relationship with a co-worker, but I did go on a date with one. During our (awful) date, I told him that I would “be the biggest bitch and make your life a living hell” if he ever told anyone, which he did. Pro tip: Threatening men isn’t as successful when you are drinking raspberry cider ale. It just doesn’t seem as hardcore. If you do decide to date someone in the workplace, which I hope you don’t, try to date someone in another department. And by another department, I mean one at least one floor down from yours. Preferably two.

Image

Oh hey, Bridget, who’s there? NOT YOUR CHEEKY (those Brits can get away with using that word so well) OFFICE ROMANCE. Nope.

Stay tuned for the second half where I’ll share some more of my wonderful nougat-centered nuggets of wisdom.

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