Entering the workforce, or trying to, comes with some unspoken rules and expectations. You are no longer in college and therefore you are expected to act and function like a working adult.
Here is some advice for recent grads and professionals in their early/mid 20’s.
Figure out if Grad/Law/Med School is Right for You
Figure this out before you go. Going to grad school is definitely the right move for some people. For others, it’s not. Don’t go to grad school just to buy time or because you don’t know what else to do. It’s expensive. Only go if you know for certain that you are set on a specific career and are really passionate about it.
Show up Early
Always show up early. That doesn’t mean show up on time right at 8am, it means show up at least 5-10 minutes before that. Even if you think your boss is chill and your coworkers show up some time between 8am and 8:05am, you should still get there a few minutes early. People take mental notes.
I’m not saying you need to stay an hour late, or even a half hour late, but don’t watch the clock and bail as soon as the clock strikes 5:00pm. Take a few minutes to finish up some work, make a to-do list for the following day or organize your inbox.
Don’t Drink on Weeknights
Maybe you can handle one or two without feeling hungover, but don’t push it. Showing up to work hungover and tired will impact your day negatively and it is usually pretty obvious to everyone. Save it for the weekend.
Dress to Impress
This doesn’t just apply to your job or going to an interview. First impressions are a big deal and you never know who you will run into. It could be a future boss. Always present yourself in a positive way. Try not to hang around town in sweatpants or looking questionably homeless, even on Sundays.
Don’t Drink and Drive
This should go without saying but it happens all the time. Just don’t do it. Take an Uber or Lyft or a good old fashioned taxi cab. The few bucks you spend on a ride home is worth it. Walk if its close enough. Getting a DUI or in a drunk driving accident could end your career, prevent you from getting future jobs, cost a fortune and even land you in jail.
Ever heard the saying “the squeaky wheel gets the grease?” Well, it’s true. If something is bothering you, let your boss know. If you want that promotion, let your boss know. If you have a good idea, let your boss know.
Try to meet as many new people as you can and always have your business card or contact information handy. This could be helpful when job searching or a great opportunity could be presented to you.
Don’t Stop Learning
Just because you’re done with school doesn’t mean that there isn’t more to learn. Read books, sharpen up your skills, take seminars, maybe get a few certifications. Usually employers will pay for you to take courses relating to your job so that is always something to look into. You should also keep up with current events.
Save Some Money
If you ever want to move out of that cheap apartment or buy a new car, you need to start saving. Don’t blow the bank every weekend going out. Set a budget for yourself and do your best to stick to it. Even if you only put $20 into savings each month it will add up and make a difference down the road.
Get in the habit of exercising. It keeps you healthy and in shape and also increases productivity. Go for a daily walk or bike ride, join a gym or club, take an exercise class or just simply do some pushups and jumping jacks at home. Healthy people tend to be happier and more successful.
Things might change for you after graduation, you might even change. It is important to embrace the change and go with it. Your lifestyle will be different from what you’re used to and that’s a good thing.
Surround Yourself With Good People and Eliminate Toxic Ones
Being around positive, happy and successful people will rub off on you. You don’t have to stay friends with or spend time with the people who bring you down, at least outside of work. Choose your circle carefully.
Don’t be Afraid to Fail
Failure can be a good thing. This can come in all forms, such as not landing a job or not completing a task on time at work. Don’t give up. You can learn and grow from a failure.
Stop Making Excuses
You are in charge of your future. Stop making excuses for yourself and don’t play the victim. Nothing is handed to you and you don’t deserve anything without earning it. Hard work pays off and you can achieve your goals by sticking to them.