Congratulations — you’ve graduated from college and landed your first job. You’re obviously smart and well qualified, otherwise they wouldn’t have hired you, and you can’t wait to join the workforce and start proving yourself. It’s an exciting time, for sure, but according to New York City-based author and career expert Vicky Oliver, it’s also a tricky one. You’re walking into a new environment, and unless you want your tenure to be a short one, you must tread carefully.
In an informative post for Black Enterprise, Oliver highlights five “rookie mistakes” that people often make on their first jobs. While college can provide you with a great deal in terms of knowledge and skills, it can’t truly prepare you for life in the workplace. After all, every company is different, and it takes time to meet everyone, learn the culture, and figure out where you fit into the overall structure. If you follow Oliver’s tips and avoid doing the following five things, though, you’ll be all the more likely to succeed.
1. Feeling Entitled — There’s a tendency among new grads to feel that mundane tasks are “beneath them,” according to Oliver, and while your bosses may ask you to do things you’re overqualified for, you shouldn’t act huffy or refuse. Instead, Oliver recommends “looking at the first job as a stepping stone and taking advantage of every opportunity to learn while in a professional environment.”
2. Not Following Etiquette — For starters, Oliver says, refrain from posting about your bosses on social media. Even if you think you live in a bubble, and only your friends will read your comments, there’s a good chance your coworkers — and possibly your higher-ups — will read what you’re posting. Further, be sure to follow rules of dress. If it’ a suit-and-tie kind of office, don’t show up in jeans and sneakers.
3. Ignoring Your Coworkers — Every company has a power structure, and just because someone doesn’t have a fancy job title, it doesn’t mean they’re not a key part of the office. It’s crucial to meet people in every department and “figure out who the players are,” according to Oliver, and if you work at a company that deals with outside clients, you should similarly get to know people at the firms you’ll be working with.
4. Clamming Up — If you don’t know how to do something, ask. While bombarding your supervisor with questions might not be the smartest play, there are likely colleagues in your department willing and able to help you. If you’re still in need of guidance, make a list of your questions and arrange for a time to meet with your boss. That way, you can cover everything at once.
5. Trying to Hard to Make Everyone Like You — Ultimately, what matters is how well you do your job, not how many people want to be your best friend. That said, Oliver admits that work is at least partially a “popularity contest,” and she recommends being friends with coworkers on Facebook, so long as they’re the ones sending the requests.