Transitions can be difficult, especially when you’re fresh out of college and leaping straight into the workforce. Not to mention the actual job search that makes you question your self-worth and sanity. It can be tough, but also exciting.
When I started my first job out of college, I went through a whole string of emotions. I was happy and excited yet also nervous about being a huge disappointment. Luckily, I found a job that not only had amazing people and promoted from the inside, but also provided a much higher income than the average for what I was doing. I’m now three months in and I have learned so much. However, as comfortable as I am now, it did come with a string of challenges. So without further ado, let’s get into 5 useful tips to keep yourself sane during your first couple weeks as a working adult.
1. Take Good Notes
Thought those days of carrying around a notebook and pen were over? Think again. Things may move quickly depending on your role and how lenient your superiors are so take good notes, and I mean as detailed as you can go. The reality is, in college, you could afford to miss things here and there, but in a company where your role is completely necessary to operations, being slow to catch on is going to impede efficiency and not many will have the patience to keep repeating how to do things over and over again. You can list steps, important dates, why a task is done a certain way, and what for.
2. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Questions
When I first started, I didn’t ask many questions because I assumed that my supervisor would get annoyed with me, but this actually ended up hurting me more than if I had just asked all the questions that were on my mind. In short, I made a lot of avoidable mistakes. Luckily, my supervisor was very understanding and told me that she would rather me ask than go about my responsibilities apprehensively. Ask questions whenever you’re unsure. Ask why a task is done a certain way. If you find a more efficient way to do something or have an idea that will improve your company, ask if it’s possible to implement it and what steps are necessary to do so. Never be afraid to ask questions. Doing so will show your employer that you’re keen on doing things accurately.
3. Be Open to Making Mistakes
Most companies offer a 3-month probationary period. This is your learning period in which they won’t expect you to actually do your job without mistakes until it ends. So don’t feel rushed to be perfect at everything right away because it’s impossible. Inevitably, you’re going to run into a few mistakes and that is completely normal for the first couple weeks. Don’t beat yourself up about it. Mistakes are our best teachers after all. I made so many mistakes the first month (one of them so major, we had to get two departments involved to fix it) and I honestly beat myself up over it questioning my skills and what I had studied in school. But then I spoke to one of my superiors who told me that they expected that to happen and that it was okay as long as I was learning. Now looking back, I wish I hadn’t put so much pressure on myself and just gone with the flow.
4. Know the Functions of Your Co-Workers
Knowing what your co-workers do is helpful for a couple reasons. One, a situation may arise in which they may run into an issue that is related to your job and so you may be asked to give aid in the form of advice or doing an extra task or two. The second is the reverse of this in which you run into an issue that will require the assistance of a co-worker with another job function. And finally, in the event that your co-worker, or more likely someone in your department/team, is absent, you will be able to do some of their tasks. This is also a great way to get noticed by upper management as a person who is versatile and has a great promotion potential.
5. Set A Routine for Optimal Work/Life Balance
I commute quite the distance to work everyday and I do the full 8-9 hours. At the beginning, whenever I returned home, I was always too tired to do anything but watch TV and head straight to bed. Before working, I had all day to commit to my hobbies and maintain a social life any day of the week, but with work, scheduling time to do what you want and hang out with friends is so important. Keep a planner, set up a schedule and a daily routine, and have the discipline to stick to it. No, you won’t be able to do everything all at once, so allocate what days you’ll hang out with your friends, what days you’ll be with your family, what hours in the day you’ll schedule a workout, what hours in the day can you’ll schedule for reading or blogging, etc.
Most importantly, don’t ever lose sight of who you are. It can be easy to get sucked into your job and settle because having an income can make you too comfortable. But never forget that your job doesn’t define who you are so don’t stop there. Even if you get your dream job, continue to soar to new heights, and find new dreams.