My Future

All The Things I Wish I Knew Before Starting My First Full-Time Job

There are some unspoken rules.

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More than two years ago now, I started my very first full-time job. I wore a bright pink Portmans shirt I thought looked professional in and straightened my usually curly hair to a crisp. Every hand I shook had to endure a lot of clamminess. I was nervous, OK? And excited. It was a big day. I was a bright-eyed, bushy-tailed young grad way too eager to tackle the world of work.

But if I could go back and talk to that terribly dressed young cherub, here’s what I would say.

#1 Bring Your Lunch

If you, unlike me, are super organised and bring your lunch everywhere, you won’t have to worry about this little tidbit. If you, like me, are a hot forgetful mess, then listen up.

Bringing your own lunch on your first day of work solves so many problems you won’t even realise are a thing. If your team are lovely and want to take you out, you can just leave your lunch in the fridge for the next day. Done. But if your team are busy, you already have lunch to eat quietly at your desk.

I didn’t bring my lunch on my first day. Instead, I ended up wandering around the local area and picking up a pathetic sandwich from a nearby store. I ate it on a street bench while scrolling listlessly through my phone a la Cady-from-Mean Girls because I just didn’t know the lunchtime rules.

#2 Confirm The Dress Code

Workplaces are quickly changing so it’s common for offices to lean more towards casual clothing than corporate attire. Take the time to confirm the dress code before you rock up to a t-shirts only job in a three-piece suit. Or vice versa. That shit’ll scar you.

#3 Be Patient

Unless you’re a verified genius or the CEO of your own start-up, you’re gonna be starting your first job from the very bottom. This’ll involve shit-kicking and mind numbing tasks that you swear are way out of your skillset and level of interest. But: hang in there.

Keep putting your hand up for more challenging tasks and make it known that you’re keen to move up but don’t huff and puff and demand a promotion. I really wish I had handled my desire to move up a lot more, ahem, professionally. Be patient and keep your head down. Your hard work will pay off.

#4 Stay Far Away From The Gossip

No matter where you work, there’ll be cliques of people who like to create and discuss drama at length. And look, I love drama more than anyone (it’s why I watch so much Real Housewives) but work drama is always best avoided. For real. Your bosses and colleagues will respect you immensely for it.

#5 Your Bosses Are Just Regular People

I spent the first six months of my job being terrified of people above me on the corporate ladder. I could hardly carry a conversation without stammering nervously. But at the end of the day, your bosses are there to help and support you do your job. Don’t be scared or intimidated by them, but try to develop a relationship of mutual respect. All good bosses will want to foster this.

So please, avoid the mistakes that I made.

(Lead image: The Devil Wears Prada/20th Century Fox)