Now, that you’ve landed your first big job, it’s time to navigate the world of office politics.
Starting out in your career can be an intimidating experience—take it from me; I recently started my first “real” job, and I’ve lived to tell the tale. Instead of letting you flounder along through the first few weeks like I did, I have gathered five of the most important lessons I learned from my first month in the corporate world.
Ask Questions, But Don’t Ask Them Again
Your supervisors expect you to ask questions when you’re new on the job, and most are very willing to answer them for you. What they don’t want is someone who doesn’t take those lessons and remember them. If you continuously go to people to ask the same questions they’ll begin to think you aren’t catching on or that you don’t care about the position.
Be Friendly, But Not Too Familiar
Of course you’ll eventually make friends at work, but don’t jump into those overly comfortable interactions. One good week of shared lunches can easily lure you into a feeling of familiarity with a new work buddy, but that doesn’t mean you should jump into a discussion on your sex life. On the flip side, you do need to be friendly and open to getting to know the people you work with. Strive to find that balance.
Imitation is Key
The best way to learn the culture of your new workplace is to observe what others are doing. What are they wearing, do they ever stop and chat, how decorated are their desks? Of course, you should always be yourself, but observing the behavior of your colleagues will help you gauge how best to fit into your new corporate climate.
Make sure that you get around the office building so people start to recognize you. Eat lunch in the break room, or hit the water cooler or coffee station a few times a day. Those looks and waves of recognition from your workplace peers will help create an atmosphere you’re excited to enter every day. A simple way to start? Just smile at the people you pass in the hallway.
Make it Personal
Leave the giant photo collage at home, but definitely bring in at least need one piece to personalize your work space. A personal item like a plant, photo or favorite printed quote help make the space feel like yours. When you feel overwhelmed or out of place, glancing at a familiar item will help you center yourself so you can continue on and do your best work on the job.