June 2017. Any significance? To most of you, the answer is probably a resounding “No…” or “It is the first day of summer?” For me, this month marks a full-year working for my current employer. This month marks my first year out of school, and my first in the (get ready for the excruciatingly painful moniker) “Real World”.
For the first go-around I have had a full year of experiences. To name a few, I learned completely new systems and ways of thinking, moved nearly 1,000 miles from a Sales Office to the Head Quarters of the company I work for in Wisconsin, all the while adjusting to the lifestyle of early to rise and early to bed that comes along with the transition from college life to corporate life.
Reflecting on the year had me thinking- What would I tell a recent graduate are the keys to a successful first year in the work force? I took a crack at it, so here are 3 excruciatingly simple, yet unbelievably important points I needed someone to tell me before I set out on this journey,
1.) You Know Nothing
A common misconception among recent graduates is they know “something”. I’m here to tell you, you know “nothing”. This is not to say you are not smart, knowledgeable about your major, etc. In fact, I include this as my first point simply as a reminder to drop your ego at the door your 1st day on the job. The second you head inside, bear in mind you are walking in a door some people have been walking through every single day for 5, 10, even 20 years. Respect it. You will find people willing and able to guide you, answer your questions, and provide advice and counsel. Step 1 is realizing this and being humble enough to accept that you know “nothing”. You will be a lot better off making this realization immediately. Your co-workers will sense your high-level of self-awareness, and appreciate it.
2.) Teach Yourself
In your first year in a new role, and specifically the first year of your career, you are going to find out what part of the business you like, what your strong suits are, and of equal importance- your weaknesses. Accentuate your strengths by learning all you can about what fires you up. Entering the Retail/Consumer Packaged Goods Industry, I had a lot to learn in the Microsoft Suite from Day 1 (not to mention a number of more specific to the job programs). I sought the opportunity to work on a project where I could teach myself advanced excel skills. I was not prepared at the start of the project, but by the end of it I was teaching other new hires tips and tricks I had taught myself.
3.) Take Care of Your Body
The single best thing I did in the past year was set the path towards a strict diet and exercise routine to compliment 40+ hour work weeks. In a University setting, time seems limitless. With only a few hours blocked off for class each day, finding the time to workout is easy, and a balanced diet does not seem to be as important because you do not have to “grind it out” 5 days a week. Enter the working world, where a difference in what you eat can positively (or negatively if you neglect to pay attention to) affect your performance, productivity, and overall feeling of well-being. After a few months I realized this, and began to tailor my eating habits and workout routine to maximize my level of energy during an exhausting work week. In “Sticking to The Plan” I had set for myself, I began to beat “The Mondays” each and every week. It is critical to meet the demands of the new schedule head on. Do your due diligence and you will not get hit by the physical rigors of working life in Year One.