Communicating Professionally

Competitive UO Senior Planner

I Have a Big Girl Job! (Do they know I don’t feel like an adult yet?) September 13, 2013


We all have a moment of realizing that we are officially an adult. I think mine came on my first day with my IT consulting firm filling out my paperwork. When my boss wasn’t around I would be searching things on my phone like ‘health insurance premium’ or calling my Dad and asking ‘What’s a Roth?’ Somewhere between putting a beneficiary on my life insurance policy and planning how much I should put aside for retirement from each paycheck, I realized I was in over my head. Why couldn’t they ask me things that I actually learned in school like the symbolism in Odysseus or the Econ formulas I wrote on the back of flashcards and memorized? I felt like I was drowning  while everyone gazed at me calmly saying ‘Yeah, that’s how it is. You’re an adult now.’

I have since grown up a little bit. I have spoken to a financial adviser (emailed the company accountant), and began to get used to the daily rituals of bills, grocery shopping, and oh yeah going to work. My job itself is challenging and rewarding. I think most people out of college can adjust to jobs in their careers easily. It is the rest of the stuff that confuses us. For instance; What can I talk to my boss about? If he/she invites me to happy hour, do I go? The answer is yes. I don’t care how old I get or how much money is in my bank account somebody offers me a free drink I pounce on that. However, there is a formula to this. You drink exactly HALF of what your boss is drinking. This is important, You never want to get drunk in front of your boss, ever. But it is important to connect with coworkers in a social setting.

In my limited experience in the working world I have seen many recent college graduates. What is the biggest failure? Dress attire. Not joking. For whatever reason, many of us 20 somethings can’t observe the proper work attire and apply to wardrobe. Yes, you need to brush your hair. No, sweatshirts are not acceptable – even on a Friday. I know we are all broke after college. But it is highly important to buy the cheapest thing you can that can pass for work appropriate. For guys that is simple, black pants and a button up. Girls, we have it more difficult. A couple general rules to follow for us: If you can’t walk into a church with that outfit, don’t wear it to work. (You would be amazed how few people follow this rule.) When in doubt, go conservative. Bright colors are great, just stick to one per outfit. Most importantly don’t look like you are going to an 8:00 am class. yes, I know you are there at that time but wake up early and put some mascara on!

One of the biggest lessons I learned right away was yes, they know you are young and new. They do not expect you to know everything. Actually, don’t even try to pretend you will seem arrogant and just make people not like you. Asking questions is great – just try to ask them in one sitting and try to answer them yourself first. Even though you may not know what you are doing be enthusiastic about that task. As just previously stated you are new. You are probably not going to receive the best assignments. That’s OK! Enjoy the ones you have because there are probably about 15 other recent graduates who didn’t receive this job that would gladly take those mundane tasks from you.