There’s nothing in the world that can quite compare, or even prepare, you for your first day on a job except your actual first job. It’s a whole different beast to high school, or at least it definitely should be, and there are very few high education subjects that teach you work culture etiquette. But you know what, it’s fun! And you’ll get into the groove soon enough. Here are a few tips to get you started.
It’s Never The Dream You Imagined
There’s no reason you can’t find a job you truly love, but there’s always your preconceived notions of what a job will be like and they can often be a bit more glamourous or tv-like than real life, particularly when you don’t have a point of reference yet. And there’s always a honeymoon period with new jobs. Just keep your expectations realistic and learn all you can.
Sometimes your workplace will set out a strict dress code, other times it just wrongly assumes it should be obvious. But everyone has different standards of appropriate so this is a truly unfair assumption.
If you don’t know, step one is always to ask. If that fails, it’s better to dress a little up than dress a little down. Of course, it depends on your industry. A lot of law offices, for example, will expect more formal wear. Media companies, yes like mine, tend to be a lot more casual. But if you’re really unsure you can’t really go wrong with either long pants or some sort of knee-length situation and a semi-formal shirt.
Once you’re there you can assess what your co-workers and management are wearing and adjust your future work outfits accordingly.
Every workplace has a slightly different culture and it’s something you can only really pick up by being immersed in it, so be observant and try to follow your fellow worker’s leads.
Work culture includes everything from how employees interact with each other, how management interacts with employees, break times, work hours and more, to smaller things like how to stock the dishwasher and emptying out the fridge. While you’re still working everything out, be polite and courteous and you can always ask if you’re not sure.
Something to keep in mind though is that there is such thing as a healthy and unhealthy work culture. ‘Healthy’ work culture is generally evident when employees are happy to follow a company’s rules and guidelines and are respectful with each other.
Criticism can be one of the hardest things to receive without taking it too personally or getting defensive. It’s ok that you don’t have everything down pat yet, you only just started! Criticism of the constructive kind is exactly what you want to keep improving your skill set. You’re definitely allowed to ask questions and further discuss anything that may be unclear to you, but do it in an open-minded way.
The More You Know
Let’s be real here, it would be pretty unusual to escape without any menial tasks in your first job. It’s just part of the territory until you learn and grow your skills. Don’t take it as an offense, get all your tasks done with a good attitude and take the opportunity to ask those who know more than you how to do certain things. Seriously, a good attitude and asking the right questions are the best way to show you’re capable of more.