Making That First Move From Motherland to the Real World: Advice You Can Share

“When you are asked if you can do a job, tell ’em, ‘Certainly I can!’ Then get busy and find out how to do it.” – Theodore Roosevelt

Over the next few weeks and months, many will be starting in their first job – be it for the summer, the first opportunity after graduation from college or high school, or other situation. It is truly an exciting period, and at the same time, scary as hell. Work is so different – the rules are different and the expectations as well. Making that critical adjustment – or better yet – transition – from home/school to work will define the success of one in their career.

So how can you – Mom, Dad, sister, brother, uncle, aunt, grandparent, friend – help?

Set them on their way with sage advice. No – not just to wear clean underwear or show up on time (BTW, so critical – one minute late is like an hour – make sure they know this), but rather, the norms of behavior and conduct that will set them up for continued career success.

I remember so well – and this was over 40 years ago – my wife’s father Vito Pitanello who has had a profound effect on our lives (he passed so early in life at 55) telling me:

… Never undermine your boss

… Work harder than the next guy

… Always have a shine on your shoes (yup – still do that every day)

Those pearls of wisdom stayed with me throughout my life. You can share pearls with one to help in their transition, and I have included some ideas to share as follows:

Check entitlement at the door – I know it is curt, but so true. Many have a sense of entitlement and when projected in a new job, it can be career ending. Teach others that they are only as good as what they did today – not yesterday or any other time – and they have no entitlement and should not expect that. If any tip I offer is to be deemed most important, it is this one as this is a huge problem in Generation Y (born 1982 through 2003).

Mind Your Manners – Be Respectful – Always – Remember to smile as you encounter a fellow worker and especially a customer. Remember the golden words: Please and thank you. Treat others with respect always – and call those out who are not being respectful, directly and politely.

Listen – Listen – Listen – Learn the New Person Role: Shut up and listen before you offer advice or commentary. No one likes a person who walks in, knows nothing, and begins to tell others how they should be doing things differently. Learn first – then talk!

Observe – Every place of work has a culture – the manner in which people communicate and interact with others, conduct their business, serve the mission and project themselves to the outside community. Carefully observe this and know what is expected of you as you engage and become a part of the culture of your new workplace.

Don’t be part of the grapevine – Gossiping about others or the workplace is a career killer. Don’t get entangled in the grapevine – the “underground” communication that is usually harmful and full of garbage. Align with those in the workplace who can help you or you can help and where you have shared interests and values. Be positive – align with positive people and shared values.

Play the Role and Live by the Rules – You are in new waters now and the rules are different and how you play them, critical. Your schedule is dictated by your job; never be late without a damn good excuse; never be late for a customer. Show up dressed for work, not the beach (learn the dress code too). No texting means that – no texting! Put your phone out of sight. Annoyed by text messages in work? try a text auto responder with a message like” Hi – I am working an cannot answer your text. If this is an emergency, CALL ME at XXX-XXXX. Best yet, free (paid version $1.99):

Deadlines mean just that – do it or be dead – Okay, maybe not dead, but certainly not favored if you miss deadlines. Meet – no beat them – and show your commitment.

Write it down – Oh please – don’t commit a responsibility to memory – write it down. Ask questions to clarify. Know what is expected of you. Never assume you know it – be sure you know it. If you are observed writing a task down, your boss and others will feel that you get it – and not wonder if you were listening.

Be proud – have fun – You made it – you got your job if only for the summer or a few years if starting out, Be proud of what you have accomplished – and celebrate!

I hope these ideas and tips are helpful in guiding someone along during this life transition. And thank you for reading this. – Dan

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