When I started working 8 years ago, I was scrambling through tickets and debugging computer issues. Now I’m in management, where I have to manage people, projects, expectations, escalations, and be the cybersecurity expert. Talk about starting from the bottom, now we’re here. After years of working, I’ve observed so many experiences, learned many lessons, and overcame obstacles. There have been many generational differences in the workforce, and we learn to work with it. I’m still learning to deal with certain situations.
Here’s my new grad’s superstar guide to the corporate world. Take note, I am a firm believer in work-life balance, but also being one of the hardest workers in the room. Make your working time worthwhile.
Set Recurring 1:1 With Your Manager
Speak with your manager and determine the best cadence to set a recurring 1:1, whether it is weekly or bi-weekly. This is the time to set expectations, ask for feedback, and performance management. It is easier to show your progress in increments versus one time at the end of the year. If you’re facing issues, one of the best advice I’ve learned is to bring up the issue, then give your input. “I am not sure of xx because of xx. However, I think xx because xx.” This formula saved me for years.
Be Proactive. Ask Questions
It doesn’t matter how much experience you have. It’s great to ask questions to make sure you’re on the right path. Don’t wait around for instructions to be told. Make the initiative and seek the next steps. This shows willingness and eagerness, putting you in a better position with others. I’m not saying to volunteer for everything, but volunteer for what’s reasonable per your workload. Some people are more capable of handling more than others, and that’s okay. You need to handle what you can, but there is a minimum baseline. If you want to do the minimum to get by, you do you, boo. Just don’t underperform and go through a performance improvement plan. It’s okay if you don’t want to hustle and take on additional responsibilities. Just make sure you get whatever you’re actually responsible for, done.
Invest in Your Workspace
If you’re working from home, you need to invest in your workspace. Most companies pay for ergonomic and office products for your productivity. If you plan on only using your 13″ laptop screen, you will be unproductive because you’re constantly switching between applications and having to remember what the other screen had. Make a comfortable space because you’ll be there for at least 8 working hours per day. Don’t ruin your eyes, wrists, legs, butt, and back because of work.
Work Friends vs. Boundaries
This has been a touchy subject. You don’t want to be isolated at work, but you also don’t want to be in a position where you’re stuck with someone who ended up being toxic. I’ve had many friends from work who I kept in touch with and others who I had to block. Be careful with boundaries because some people want to know too much to undermine you. It’s okay to keep things casual and show you have a simple lifestyle. Save the wild escapades for the actual close friends. Work friends can help you out in the long run when it comes to recommendations and such. It doesn’t hurt to have dinner with them once in a while. Have good judgment and don’t trust everyone. There have been situations where people attempted to befriend me just to know my opinion for malicious purposes. It’s a no from me.
Enjoy Your Time Working
Make the most out of your work life. There are times when you’re just trying to power through current times to rack up the experience. That’s fine. If you feel like what you’re doing isn’t your call, work towards your calling. Do whatever that gets you the lifestyle and sustainability you want. If you want to reach a certain goal, draw out the steps to get there. That includes having to take the baby steps and partitioning out time. You don’t have to reach an executive level to be successful. You can be just as successful being an individual contributor. I found myself liking the technical lead role more than being a manager.