By the time you graduate from college, you probably feel comfortable with navigating the social dynamics. In the office, there are another set of rules that you will have to learn. Here are some things that you might not know about working in the real world.
1. You might get little or no training.
If you are working at a startup or a small business, there might not be anyone to train you in the job you are hired for. The solution is to be savvy about searching online about best practices. Find and follow respected blogs in your industry.
Beyond the tasks that you are hired for, you also have to learn about the business itself. How is it operated? What is your company’s biggest advantages and disadvantages? What are the company’s business goals and how can you help to meet them? Knowing all of this will tell you what you should focus on at work.
2. You will to deal with office politics.
You thought you left high school behind. Sadly, the corporate office can just like high school, with cliques, the manager’s pets, the star performers and ego clashes.
Avoid the office politics as much as you can. Pay attention to who the influencers are and stay on their good side, but most importantly, be pleasant and civil to everyone.
3. Interpersonal skills will matter a lot more than expertise.
Expertise will help you get a job, yes, but it is your interpersonal skills that will advance your career. Think about managers and high-level executives, their responsibilities lie in project management, delegation, getting new business, and representing the company – not doing the grunt work anymore.
If you want to be promoted, pay attention to your work relationships and build your interpersonal skills.
4. Your manager can make or break your career.
Your manager decides what projects to assign you, whether you get a raise, and whether you get a promotion. If your manager does not like you or respect your work, then your career will stagnate or even be sabotaged. You will not get a raise, promotion, or even interesting projects that help you grow.
5. You represent your company.
Even if you are off the clock, you can still be fired for doing something that can damage the reputation of the company. We’ve all heard stories about employers firing an employee for something they have said or posted on their personal social media accounts. If you commit a crime
6. Your job description is not totally accurate.
Usually, human resources or the hiring manager writes the job description to their best of their knowledge, not the person who actually had the job. As a result, the job description is probably not 100% accurate.
If your job turns out to be completely different then the one presented to you in the interview, then you need to speak up! Ask what has changed and whether you will get to do the tasks you agreed to when you accepted the offer.
7. Respect what you don’t know.
When you are new to an organization, there will be many things that you don’t know. Maybe you feel like you are working in the stone age with the Windows XP computer, but perhaps there is a critical piece of software that only works on that operating system. Ask questions, and most importantly, ask why things are done the way they are.
8. Speak up to get what you need.
You are the only person who can advocate for what you need. Even if you have a great manager, you still need to speak up first and communicate your need. Everyone is busy and focused on their own priorities, and they might not realize your need.
9. Work is (at least) 80% mundane and 20% exciting.
Keeping business operating involves some really boring and mundane tasks. Before I started working, I imagined adults going to work, coming up with business strategies, and spend their days solving complex problems. At my first internship, I realized that most of the work day involves a lot of mundane tasks to keep the business humming along. The thing is, life is built up of the little mundane tasks that eventually becomes the next invention or scientific discovery.
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