New kid on the block

It is not always easy being the newcomer. If this is your first work experience, do not fret

For many of you reading this, 2019 is the year you enter the corporate jungle. Welcome to a world where exams are practically non-existent, the cash flow is regular, and the curfews are late. It is an exciting time because you’re a more independent person than you ever were before! However, it is a whole new world out there, and you need to be prepared to handle situations at the workplace that you would have never had to tackle as a student.

New beginnings

Here are some thoughts you probably will have over the course of your first few months on the job:

“I have no idea what I am doing.”:Don’t worry, this is not a secret. We know! Your first job is meant for the sole purpose of learning — learning how to do your work, how to interact with colleagues and how to navigate the corporate culture. So if you are not sure of something, always ask; do not assume.

“I am going to get fired for this mistake, aren’t I?”:You are not expected to get everything right on the first try. Making mistakes is part of the course for everyone, not just freshers. The important thing is to show others that you have learned from past goof ups and do not repeat them.

“Day three and I still haven’t been assigned any work. Why am I here?”:Facing an existential crisis while you are benched? It happens to us all. Work will come when it comes, and it is common to have free time in the early days. Use the time wisely. You could get more familiar with your colleagues. Or perhaps there are some special skills or software that you need to use in your job; instead of waiting for others to teach you, use the free time to teach yourself.

“My manager hates my guts”:This is a tricky one. If you encountered a one-off incident, where your manager raised his or her voice, then you may be blowing this out of proportion. However, if you and the team consistently find it difficult to work with the manager, then you need to be careful. Bad managers are not easy to escape, and working with one is a rite of passage in the corporate world. Keep a low profile and concentrate on producing good quality work, so that he or she has little reason to find fault with it.

“I have no friends here. Forever alone!”: Unless you’re a particularly gregarious individual, making friends at office can be hard. Unlike college, your colleagues are people from different generations, with varied interests and their own established network of family and friends outside of work. While it is certainly a bonus, your work friends need not be your friends outside of work too. That said, finding people you have commonalities with will take some time. Until then, put in the effort to appear sociable, even if it goes against your nature. Join your colleagues for lunch and tea breaks, share snacks with them, and volunteer to help them with tasks if they seem to be drowning in work. You will eventually meet your future friends, and they might not even be from the same department as yours.

“If X can do this, it should be alright if I do it too”: Learning by observing others is a good way to figure out the office culture. However, if something does not seem right to you, do not go ahead with it just because a colleague or a peer does it. For instance, just because someone feeds you office gossip, does not mean you have to return the favour with some of your own. Or, if you see a colleague bypass the standard rules or processes in the company in order to get things done, do not assume it is okay for you to do the same. Understand what the implications are and use your best judgement before you jump into it.

For all its excitement, the first job can be a stressful time. It is important to remember, all of us fumbled when we took our first steps. Nobody expects you to have all the answers or to keep everybody happy. Take your slip ups in your stride and remind yourself, all of this is a learning experience.

The writer is a psychologist and management consultant.

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Printable version | Apr 9, 2020 8:29:16 PM |

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