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Surviving the First Year at Work

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  1. Surviving the First Year at Work Bill Fenson Coordinator, Business Career Services University of Texas at Arlington

  2. Congratulations! • Making the transition from flip-flops to business suits can be both exciting and nerve-racking • You may consider taking some time to unwind and mentally prepare for the work world • It is important to recognize the realities and opportunities presented when starting work to make the transition successful

  3. Flexible schedule: Being out till 3am and having late classes or skipping classes Goof off and get notes from friends and still make a good grade The “roll out of bed” look is acceptable Be Punctual: There are not many excuses for being tardy or absent Real word is less tolerant of mistakes and demands top performance Dress for success aids in building a good reputation College vs. Work

  4. Before Arriving • Image is Important: Update your wardrobe • What is the company’s dress code? Formal dress or business casual? • Up-front investment in clothing is beneficial; Free shirts are no longer in • Create a budget • Paycheck is generally 30% less than gross salary • Make a list of essential expenses and note how much buffer is left for additional expenses

  5. Before Arriving • Read the Company’s Policy Beforehand • Terms such as PPO, HMO, POS, PCP, 401k, etc. can be overwhelming • Be proactive and research the terms and meet with your human resources representative to clarify any questions • Procedures may seem meaningless and common sense but can come up later

  6. Excuse me…? • ASK QUESTIONS! • One of the biggest regrets is not asking for more information at the beginning. • Don’t try to reinvent the wheel. Asking a simple question could save maybe a half day’s worth of work. • People may not sit down and teach you step by step what has to be done but by asking questions, you are showing the need for clarification and also that you want understand what is being asked of you

  7. Saving and Investing • Understand the time value of money • Try putting 15-20% (or the company’s maximum) into your 401k as early as possible. It could be the difference of thousands of dollars and many years! • Example: Jack and Jill each start working at 22. Jill opens a qualified retirement plan at 12% and invests $2000/year and STOPS after 6 years. Jack spends an extra $2000 on himself for the first 6 years and THEN opens a qualified retirement plan at 12% and invests $2000 for 37 YEARS. Jill invested only $12,000 to Jack’s $74,000. At the age of 65 each of them will accumulated the same amount: $1,363,780!

  8. From the Sidelines • Observe the office culture • Understand how things work and who’s who in the office hierarchy • Initially, listen to others and understand their position before articulating your own • Communicate effectively

  9. “Hello, My Name is…” • Get to know each of your colleagues professionally • Be tactful, be honest, be modest, yet direct • Do not focus on someone’s weakness – do not talk behind their back. Rather focus on your strengths • Network • Understand where each person in your department stands and what his or her duties are • If you are not an expert in something, find out who is and set up a meeting to learn what they know

  10. Catching On • Be flexible to office adjustments and work tasks • Take the initiative to go beyond the initial job description and help others • Be a team player • Be cooperative • Don’t manipulate or use people for your own personal gain

  11. Your Supervisor • Unlike a college professor, a supervisor will send the worker to find the answers, be vague on what is expected in a task and may assign tasks last minute • Accept that your supervisor’s job is to train you and at times will seem difficult to work with • He or she is not a sound board for your personal problems • Too much awareness can affect your maturity, professionalism and competence

  12. Identifying a Mentor • It is important to develop good relationships with co-workers with good reputations • A mentor will be able to provide insight on the work culture and expectations as well as provide guidance in what is expected of you • Processing your first year of professional development will give you an opportunity to receive feedback as well reflect on the various aspects of your career path and job

  13. Frame of Reference • No matter how difficult, unreasonable, crazed the job, the work or your supervisor seem, it is important to keep a positive state of mind • Concentrating on strengths rather than weaknesses can change your perspective that your environment is more manageable

  14. Extracurricular Activities • Unlike college, the work schedule does not give breaks throughout the day • Realize you are going to have more free time in the evening because you will not have class assignments • It is important to branch out and make social networks because they will not be as available as they were in college

  15. Keys to Future Success • Six key “people” skills employers expect to see in the future: • Problem-solving • Ethics • Open-mindedness • Persuasiveness • Leadership • Educational interests (willing to go in for further training or learn more about unfamiliar areas

  16. Keys to Future Success (cont’d) • People build these skills over time and develop them through observation and experience • Do what you can to allow yourself to grow professionally • Attend formal classes • Volunteer in professional committees • Be aware of your goals and what has to be done to attain them

  17. Final Thoughts and Tips • Go in with a open mind, show maturity and poise and that you work well with others. You may begin to be chosen for better assignments • Spend time observing how people act, who takes initiatives and who performs well. Don’t join a clique right away

  18. You are in charge of the direction of your career path; at the end, you are responsible for both your failures and successes • Be PROACTIVEin the way you approach your career