Career Advice, Jobs

Your First Job: What to Expect

After what felt like a lifetime of homework, projects, and tests, you’ve finally graduated from avid student to hungry job seeker to first-time employee. Well done!

But all of that hard work doesn’t just stop after landing the job; it’s only just begun.

As a new addition to the full-time workforce, you’re probably beginning to doubt your skills or knowledge and even your ability to succeed in your new role. But, as with anything new, plenty of preparation can help calm those fears.

So, here are four things new grads should expect and prepare for when starting a job this year:

1. Not everyone is out to get you.

As a new employee, there’s a lot you’re going to have to learn — from who to report to when completing a project to where the nearest bathroom is. Accepting the fact that it may take you a while to learn the ropes is essential in learning how to take and apply constructive criticism.

And, considering the majority (57 percent) of employees prefer corrective feedback over praise and recognition, according to a 2014 study of 899 individuals by the Harvard Business Review, you have to brace yourself for the good, the bad, and occasionally, the ugly.

How to prepare: Remind yourself that corrective feedback isn’t designed to put you down, but rather to build you up. The sooner you recognize that, the better you’ll be. Whether it’s from a significant other, a friend, or your boss, practice gracefully accepting criticism and using it to motivate you, rather than discourage you.

2. Privacy is a luxury you (probably) won’t have.

Many of us grew up with the image in our heads of a corner office with our name on the door — or, at least, a cubicle to call our own. But this isn’t always the case, especially in today’s workplace where open offices are on the rise. Companies are literally taking down the office walls and swapping privacy for increased collaboration.

How to prepare: With open offices comes a number of distractions — and nowhere to hide. To grow accustomed to working with less privacy, take your work to a local coffee shop or someplace with a lot of activity. Working in such a busy environment will help you get used to focusing despite the noise, as well as make you more aware of any work habits that might disturb those around you (e.g. blasting music, reading aloud, etc.).

3. You won’t fit in without a Fitbit…

…or, at least, a solid understanding of the latest tech tools. Each generation brings its own unique benefits and perks to the job market. For the latest batch of job seekers (I’m looking at you), it’s wearable technology.

Wearable technology is increasingly being adopted by innovative companies for everything from monitoring employee health to streamlining everyday operations. And it’s expected to surge in popularity and acceptance in the workplace this year. In fact, the total wearable market is estimated to grow from $22 million in 2014 to a whopping $175 million by 2020, according to a recent report by TECHnalysis Research.

How to prepare: As wearable technology goes from luxury to necessity in the workplace, you’ll need to become comfortable with using these tools. Fitbits, in particular, have become a widely used tech tool in organizations’ health care initiatives. So, get accustomed with using various wearable technologies and how they can apply to the office.

4. You’ll go back to being a freshman.

Your time as a senior and the “top dog” is over… for now. As a student turned full-time employee, you’re going to go from working with peers your own age to working alongside baby boomers (people born during the post-World War II baby boom). Needless to say, there will be a pretty hefty age gap between you and some of your colleagues.

How to prepare: Despite being a new grad and the “new guy” in the office, you still need to demonstrate a sense of authority in your role. However, it can be hard to do so when you’re working with much more experienced co-workers. Don’t let that discourage you; let it inspire you. Rather than avoiding your older colleagues and socializing within your own age group, branch out and network. Be eager and willing to learn from workers of all ages.

What are some other things new grads should expect when starting a new job?