New to the Workforce?

Recent college graduates have always known there’s a period of adjustment when transitioning from college campus to employee parking lot. Some are better prepared than others, but usually, there’s always a bit of nervousness until they get their new routines down. A. Harrison Barnes, career coach and EmploymentCrossing.com founder, offers these tips for those just entering the workforce:

When you accept a position, but sure you understand the company’s policies on everything from the dress code to any professional associations you’re expected to join. Ask questions, take notes and ask for clarification when it’s needed. The new employer wants to see inititiatve and ensuring you understand the guidelines means it’s important to you , too.

Understand that you’re about to transition from a classroom of folks who were likely your own age to a new dynamic that includes people of all ages and with vastly different backgrounds, says A. Harrison Barnes. You’ll meet folks with a lifetime of experience – take the opportunity to learn something. Don’t fall into that trap of thinking younger is better prepared. It’s not always the case.

Keep in mind too that while you’re used to a structured environment with definitive start and finish times in your classroom settings, you’re going to face the occasional early morning or late evening meeting. Prepare to ensure your attendance, says the EmploymentCrossing.com founder.

Also, you’re not going to be receiving the level of feedback you had grown accustomed to in school. No grades, no notes on returned papers – it’s just you and your job and odds are, you’ll hear more about what you’re doing wrong than what you’re doing right. Rest assured the accolades will come, but not with the frequency of requests to redo a project because the guidelines weren’t followed. Learn to accept the criticism and the requests with grace and maturity.

Understand it’s going to take time to get used to your new environment. There’s a learning curve and no employer expects a new hire to walk in with a complete understanding of what’s expected. Don’t be afraid to ask for clarification, Barnes suggests.

Keep in mind, too, that while you may be used to multi-tasking – including grabbing a slice of pizza and eating over your laptop during finals, it could be your new employer doesn’t allow eating in the workspace. If that’s the case, plan accordingly and remember, it’s not a new rule designed to make your life hard – it is what it is.

Finally, Barnes suggests that you steer clear of office politics and the office gossip. It’s never professional and could put you in a light you don’t want. You’re already the new kid on the block; when the office gossip hones in on you, be kind and polite and remain professional, but make it clear your objective is to do your job to the best of your abilities with as little insight as possible as to who’s fooling around with whom.
Before long, you’ll be fully acclimated in your new position. From there, the sky’s the limit in terms of where you take your career.

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