Sunday, June 18, 2017

10 Tips for Fresh Graduates - The Cold Hard Truth of Workplace

It has been more than 3 years since I started my first full-time job. Now that it is time to leave and move on to a new workplace as part of my career plan, I can't help pondering on the valuable experiences and wonderful knowledge I have acquired throughout my tenure. As I depart, I left behind my work desks, my stationeries, my tasks, my colleagues, but brought along with me the fond memories and relevant skills gained over the years. To commemorate my career progression, here are 10 tips I have come out with which I thought would be useful especially for young fresh recruits.

1. Dress to impress

Just kidding. You don't need to TRY to impress anyone. But you should at least have that signature look that defines who you are. It could be your pink power suit, your little grey dress, your nude suede pump heels, or even your simple tied-up bun. That being said, you should not go overboard with luxury by showing off your material possession. After all, you wouldn't want to be labelled as "the spoilt rich brat who goes to work with her Chanel bag". 

At my previous work place, all the girls (and I mean ALL) carry pretty decent branded bags with the most expensive being YSL and Prada. Then there were some LV, Gucci and Burberry. Sometimes some Michael Kors and Kate Spade. Nobody carries a brandless bag IDK why, probably cause we work at Uptown and we are supposedly "Uptown Girls" wtf. A few months into the job, I decided to get myself a black Saffiano leather working bag from Tory Burch. Not too shabby, not too flashy. It spells professionalism with a hint of elegance. 

Anyway, you shouldn't have to intentionally purchase a designer bag to build an identity. But always make sure to dress well because first impression matters, especially when you are new. 

2. Team work

Screw that boring team work definition they used to teach you in school! Team work is not just about working on assignments together, gathering differing opinions prior to the final decision, making use of each individuals' talents to accomplish a common mission etc. IMO, team work could be about having lunch together as bonding sessions, keeping quiet when your coworkers "accidentally" come in late for work, helping your coworkers with that annoying phone call he refuses to pick up, or heck, even having the "same, certain" kind of opinion on your favourite lady boss. 

Team work is about being within that invisible circle of loyalty. To gain each other's trust that you blend in perfectly as part of the team, that you are not a betrayer, a whistle-blower, a social outcast. Don't be that person who packs lunch to work while everyone else eats out. Because truthfully, lunch time is when the real bonding happens. It is also the time when you discover your mutual love and hatred. 

3. The learning process is different

Always take the initiative to learn. In school, the students' objective is to learn, whereas the lecturers' objective is to teach. But at work, your boss did not hire you to learn, but rather, to complete your task and generate revenue for the organization (or to incur expenses, if you are from the cost centres). Teaching is the last of their priorities, because ain't nobody got time for that. However, when you are new, it is important that you learn as much as possible within your first 2 years. Because after those 2 years, people would really start judging you if you still ask stupid questions. 

But nobody will bother to teach you unless you ask. As you face difficulties, write down immediately, compile your questions and find a suitable opportunities to consult your supervisor/mentor. More often than not there is no perfect time to ask, because they are like so busy the whole damn time! So sometimes you have to be thick skin abit without being too irritating LOL.

After 3.5 years, my mentor still repeats the story of me being an annoying prick asking her questions when she was busy. Sorry lah, cause she was never not busy, so I had no choice XD At least I didn't ask her the same question twice! Make sure to write down everything they teach you on your note and refer back instead of asking them the same thing again. 

4. Persevere

A few months into the job, you may find yourself in a state of confusion thinking whether you have chosen the right path. You would be scared; you would be lost; you would start questioning yourself whether the job suits you (or vice versa), or is there something better out there you have yet to explore. The job would start to appear mundane, and you would stare into your computer screen feeling an everlasting state of emptiness.

Don't be that irresponsible millennial who gives up as soon as you have these thoughts. Instead, give yourself some time and allow yourself to work from different perspectives. Perhaps, try doing certain things differently? Or start picking up new challenges you have never encountered before. TBH, I experienced this during the first few months of my job. I chose to stay on. And it took me quite a few months to "finally see the light at the end of the tunnel". Because before I realized, I have started enjoying my once-seemingly-boring job and I even thought I was good at it. It is not my timid self settling for an imperfect job, but rather, I have discovered the fun within, and the reason I chose this path in the first place.

5. Be prepared for demanding expectations

At 6.30pm, your boss would expect you to stay and wait while he/she checks your work. Because like hello why do you need social life? Work is priority! *eye roll* Regardless whether it was a weekend or public holiday, when you receive a text from your boss, you are expected to reply immediately or risk facing their sarcastic criticisms during the next meeting. Some bosses even expect you to enter the office during weekends (without getting OT pay, obviously). Or deliver work to their house during weekend or public holidays. Or provide them free chauffeur service when their car is sent for repair (to which you should politely suggest them to use Uber or GrabCar instead).

What to do? You can't flip. At least not until the next performance appraisal is over and when you are ready to leave.

6. Forget about sympathy and empathy

One of the culture shock you may experience as you enter the work force is the coldness of society. You know how your friends and family used to console you with words of encouragement during the down period of your life? Like when you fail your exam, when you break up with your boyfriend, when you lost your iPhone, or when your dog dies? Well don't expect the same from your workplace, especially not from your superior. In fact, don't even mention on the calamity that struck you, because then they would start to observe your performance at work. 

Whether or not your boyfriend dumps you is the last thing your boss wants to know. What matters to him/her is whether you can help the team achieve the KPI.

7. Be ready to be tested by superiors on your priorities

There are times when your boss would start testing your priorities to gauge how dedicated you are to the team. This is when you have to think of a bigger picture and start to let go certain things. For example, when your boss is unhappy about you taking a long-week of study leave. Work matters, but your exam is equally important too. How are you going to make your decision? 

That was what happened to me at the early stage of my working days. At that point of time, the fact that I had to compromise was simply ridiculous, because I was merely utilizing my entitlement. On written policy, it was perfectly fine for me to do so, but on the other hand, your boss is the one who reports on your performance evaluation. I was so emotional I even went to the car park and cried wtf (nobody knew this, because why show them your weakness?). In the end, I compromised, cut my leave short and made my boss happy :/

8. Your job is not your entire life

Being dedicated to your job and establishing your career from it is great. But don't overdo it to the extent that it affects your health. Nobody will pity you and appreciate your sacrifice for the company if you ever fall ill from fatigue (which brings us back to point no. 6). If you OT everyday, you certainly do not fall under the best employee category. Your boss would questioning your efficiency, and your colleagues would start hating you for making them look bad. 

Work smart, not work hard. On job, you work smart to achieve the greatest performance with the least effort. Off the job, you maintain a balanced and healthy lifestyle. Remember that your job is not your everything and you do have a life outside work. 

9. Keep your secrets far from work

If you think it is okay to share secrets from your personal life with your work bff, think twice. Dirty secrets spread like wild fire. The next thing you know, colleagues from other branches would all be well-informed of your stories. And while we are at this topic, don't shit where you eat! (not literally) If you fancy an affair, target your prey off the workplace. Don't be known by the whole organization as the shameless cheater, because reputation does matter. 

10. Be careful what you share on social media

Some companies have strict policies against sharing on social media. At my previous organization, we are forbidden from sharing photos from company event especially those bearing their name or logo. Regardless of the occasional email reminder from HR, people still share their photos frequently on Facebook which was super amazeballs because I would never do that to jeopardize my job (but mainly because I don't want people to know where I work la LOL). Still, the fact that others are doing it does not mean that it is acceptable and okay to do so. You never know when you are going to be the unlucky one to be targeted by your HR. Better be safe than to be sorry.

All the best to all young fresh grads who are stepping into the working society! :)


Erik said...

Nice tips. If you don't mind me asking, whereabouts are you heading to? I left UOB as well. Haha.

Copykate said...

Erik, too early to reveal :P

Erik said...

Haha. ;)