Today we have a guest post from Maria Rainier who is a freelance blogger and writer for www.onlinedegrees.org. This is Maria’s helpful advice to young graduates who are about to take on their first full-time role after leaving college.
Secretary Spread, Office Politics and Other Things Young Professionals Should Prepare Themselves For
You finally made it. You passed your exams—some with flying colors, others not so much—you walked across the stage, and are now ready to start the next phase of your life as a working professional. While you might be ready for the professional challenges thrown your way, there are various aspects of working life you’ll undoubtedly have to get used to.
It’s a very different world than the college campus you’ve grown accustomed to the last these last four years or so. So, to help make the transition period a little easier, I’ve outlined a few things to look out for below. These aren’t exactly issues stressed within your average college lecture, but they are things you need to know. Read on to learn more.
This first one might sound a bit odd, but believe me it’s a real problem. I’m sure you all remember being warned about the “freshman 15” when you started college, well think of this as the same thing, but for people in the working world. I personally had never heard the term until it happened to me.
Unlike many of my friends, I LOST weight in college—my first year alone I dropped 25 pounds and was in the best shape of my life. As the semesters rolled by, my weight fluctuated very little and I maintained my fit physique. However, that all changed the instant I graduated. Suddenly, the pencil skirts I had so easily squeezed in and out of were no busting at the seams.
I didn’t get it. What had changed? Then it dawned on me—my body was dormantly stuck behind a desk for the majority of my waking hours. Before I would sit for an hour or hour and a half, take a few notes then make my trek across campus for the next one. I can’t even tell you how many miles I likely walked. On top of that I was working out regularly, which, unfortunately I became horrible about doing once I started working professionally. Then there were the company lunches and dinners.
Between retirement parties, client meetings and quarterly feasts for whatever project we were currently working on, I was surrounded by lavish food I personally never sought out myself. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining that I worked for a company that actually endorsed this sort of activity, it’s just that my waistline couldn’t handle the extra calories. I was eating way more than I had in college and my body was noticing. After my first year, I had gained a shameless 10 pounds. One day my own mother was like “uh-oh, guess you fell victim to secretary spread!”
Luckily, I found the error in my ways and corrected it, but many never even notice until they’e packed on 20, 30, or even 40 pounds. So, to keep this from happening to you simply keep up with your fitness routine (or start one if you haven’t) and eat like you’re metabolism has already caught up with you. If you don’t, it will before you know it, so might as well be proactive about it.
Now, onto more serious topics—not that health and fitness isn’t important, but they are very manageable—whereas this is completely beyond your control. Now, some of you may have already dealt with this in previous jobs or internships, but in your first full-time job, they are a completely different animal. Sure, you may have been frustrated at your last gig, but there was likely a light at the end of the tunnel because you knew you weren’t going to be wherever you were forever.
You had plans to graduate, move, and start your career. Well, now here you are—starting your career—and you’re faced with some not nice situations. People making you look bad in front of your boss, coworkers stealing credit that should have been yours, colleagues getting promotions they simply aren’t qualified for…and why? All because they knew the right people, or the boss likes them best.
Sure, it’s not the least bit fair, but it is something that happens quite frequently—and this time there’s no quick escape route. I’m not saying you’ll be in that same position with that same company forever, but you will likely be there for more than a “semester or two” as you were with your previous jobs. You want to stay, learn what you can, then move on—and that usually takes 2 years minimum, so you could be looking at quite the marathon here.
If you feel you’re in the middle of some particularly nasty office politics, all you can do is smile, put your best professional foot forward and kill them with kindness. You might not think so, but your competency will pay off in the end. It will be a test in maturity and professionalism, but you can do it.
Extremely Limited Availability
A final thing to look out for as you immerse yourself in the working world is your extremely limited schedule that is sure to hit you like a brick. At least that’s what happened to me and many of my friends. We went into our jobs thinking, “You mean I only have to be here from 8-5 five days a week? Piece of cake, I can handle that.” We had all successfully juggled jobs, internships, school and extracurriculars while in college, so why would we not be able to make a simple 40-ish hour work week work for us? Well, we quickly learned that it was a lot more strenuous than we first thought.
Unlike school, work is set around SOMEONE ELSE’S schedule. Meetings can’t be “pushed back” because you have a huge midterm. Classes can’t be skipped because you stayed out too late. Work and life goes on—day in and day out. Even when you’re sleeping, people across the globe are keeping things going. You don’t get a week off just because, you have to earn that time. And you can’t “drop a class” because you’re going through a rough time. Everything is what it is and you can’t change it.
I found myself slowly becoming less and less social. I could no longer make it to every happy hour. Outings had to be skipped—I was a grown up with grown-up responsibilities that would not wait. So, if you’re planning to have “one more beer with the guys,” double check your schedule first to make sure you don’t have anything ready and waiting for you tomorrow morning.
This post was not meant to scare you about the impending responsibilities waiting for you, but rather PREPARE you for them. Whether you want to admit it or not, they’re there, unavoidably waiting for you. If someone had given me a heads up about these, I may have taken a bit more advantage of my last few months in college.
Maria Rainier is a freelance blogger and writer for www.onlinedegrees.org. Maria believes that online degrees and online universities are the future of higher learning. She is interested in all things concerned with higher education and is particularly passionate about life after college. Please share your comments with her.