Five things for students to consider in the new workplace

A simple five-point article which gives the new graduate student an idea of what they should and shouldn't do in the new workplace. Seriousness with a slight element of refined British humour provided
Written by Zack Whittaker, Contributor

For most students who have just graduated, the thought of entering the workplace and leaving behind their friends and family (again) is a daunting and somewhat terrifying prospect. Eventually the nerves will subside and the path ahead of them will be clear: apply for jobs, promote yourself to the full and after much hard graft and arse kissing, you will land yourself a job.

Employers: You may find this a more relevant perspective.

I will tell you two things now. One, it will far from be the perfect job but it'll no doubt be a stepping stone towards better and higher paid positions. Secondly, a degree really isn't worth the paper it's written on, so hopefully you will be able to cash in a few favours with those vital connections you made during your university experience. For all you know, the next chief-executive of a multi-national corporation could have been your roommate in your first year in halls.

Sadly, it really is who you know and not what you know.


For sake of disclosure, this is what I have personally experienced in the past. After speaking to a number of friends and colleagues (past, present and students), this list also represents the most common of them all.

1. Don't be pompous, arrogant or think you're "all it". Be modest.

Even though you now have the job - perhaps the dream job you have been waiting for, or an intermediary post which will suffice for when Hell freezes over - you shouldn't be too arrogant about it. Always think to yourself that you got the job by the skin of your teeth. Only then, when you realise this, will you accept how lucky you are and that somehow you tick that special box which nobody else could during the interviews.

You, as an employee, are expendable and can easily be replaced in the future. As long as you remain humble to your position, you will surely keep the job for a lot longer. You will be more cautious, careful in what you do, dedicated in how you go about every day menial tasks and end up fulfilling the highest ranks of Maslow's hierarchy of needs sooner rather than later.

2. The administrative staff run the company. Don't screw with them.

In my experience, it isn't the directors or the managers which have the control of the company, it is the administrative teams who are the "gatekeepers of the office". Nothing happens without admins say-so, and ultimately the managers are held at metaphorical gunpoint if the administrative side disagrees.

Of course this is personal opinion, but I am confident many will agree.

Treating marketing staff, administrative staff, secretaries, receptionists, public relations or human resources employees as second-class employees or "not as important as you" through difference or lack in qualifications or pay bands and you will most certainly find trouble ahead.

From your very first day, introduce yourself and treat everyone with the utmost of respect. Do this by not only remembering their names but engaging in relevant topics which may well interest them. Not only will you get your paycheque on time, your photocopying and invoicing done within a reasonable time frame, and maybe even a collective present on your birthday, but you won't end up with IT policy restrictions, missed phone messages and human excrement smeared on your desk. Respect takes little effort and touches the heart of even the stoneiest and coldest souls.

3. When hotdesking, your desktop screen should be Zen.

As more and more offices are turning to hotdesking environments to keep overall costs down, you will find desk nicknack's obsolete, unnecessary and generally impractical. Your computer desktop, however, will go everywhere with you and should be treated as your actual desktop should be.

To some extent, your desktop should be free of restrictions and hopefully, should be clear of clutter, organised and clean. Clean, being the operative word, as most backgrounds of male students here at my university are in direct breach of the IT policy by having pornographic images sprawled across their desktop.

I, personally, adopted for a more pleasant version of the synonym. Seriously, this is my wallpaper.

With the added aid of gadgets, widgets and all kinds of other desktop tomfoolery which most operating systems supply nowadays, desktop customisation is at its most constructive and simplified. Take advantage of this fact and be the envy of everybody else in the office.

4. Be eager and show dedication. Just don't work too much.

As you will soon discover in a new job, there is in fact such thing as a work-life balance. You probably haven't heard of it, or if you had, brushed it off as nothing more than a myth. Wake up, drink, drink more, attend a lecture, drink, drink, drink some more, go to the pub, drink, lose your keys, break into your own house, drink, collapse, wake up and do the same thing again. Not any more, ex-student!

Working too much rather than too hard can cause an issue with your new superiors. If you decide to work on overtime, try and make sure you don't work more than an hour each way of your ordinary working day. Your colleagues will at some point inform you that home time is just as important as work time. Engage with your colleagues outside of work and build up a new mutual perspective of these people; see the brighter side of your co-workers rather than the boring stiffs that work in the same office as you.

Plus, the more work you do outside of the office hours doesn't guarantee overtime pay, but does increase the chance of people pawning off their extra workloads onto you. You wouldn't want to look like a pushover, would you?

5. Keep your home and work life separate at all costs.

Picture the scene; a hypothetical situation of a young, bearded employee at their office in London, who is going through a bit of a difficult break-up with his partner. Just as you enter into a meeting where you are giving the second-half of a presentation to your team leader and department head, your now ex-girlfriend bursts through the door and empties a suitcase of your underwear onto the desk; underwear which you left at her house only the week before.

Now, clearly this absolutely never happened, being another one of my hypothetical situations. However, think about this on a technological level.

Again with Facebook, especially, be careful what you put on there especially if you are on the same network as your colleagues, and even more cautious if you are friends with your superiors on the site. Adding your boss on Facebook is similar to adding your parents onto your friends list. There will be things on there you really wouldn't want them to see, so make sure they are either blocked or on a closed, limited profile of which they see what you want them to see.

Are you a student just out of university looking for a job? What do you expect from your employer or workplace? Do you think you can bring anything special to the job in hand, or will you be set to fail from day one after nominating yourself as the office clown? Throw it in here with the rest of it.

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