baked byJay Fanelli
Congratulations, recent graduates, you’ve read Mike’s post and landed yourself one of those design jobs he talked so much about. You start next week…now what? Here are ten tips to help you survive your first year on the job and come across as the earnest young go-getter that you are.
Say “please” and “thank you.” Learn everyone’s name. Talk to everyone in the office. Look people in the eye. Hold the door for others. Shake hands firmly. Be gracious. Smile. The quickest way to gain a reputation as a nice person to work with is to be a nice person to work with. This not only applies to interactions with co-workers, but also with receptionists, restaurant staff, office janitors, etc.
Be proactive and anticipate needs. Look for opportunities to fill gaps. Don’t sit around waiting for someone to tell you what to do. Step up.
Don’t avoid meetings. In fact, ask to sit in on as many as you can. It’s a chance to show your face to people who have no idea who you are. It’s also a chance to receive news first-hand, and to observe how your managers and co-workers communicate with each other and with clients. Don’t avoid happy hours either. Letting loose with your co-workers builds camaraderie. Just don’t get shit-faced. Not yet, anyway.
Keep your ears open to the tides and rumblings of the office. Awareness is your friend.
Never be the last one to arrive in the morning, and never be the first one to leave at night. People notice.
You’re about to make some money, likely more than you’ve ever made in your entire life thus far. Learn how to manage it. If you’re in a place like New York or San Francisco, most of your salary will exit your bank account in the form of rent. Adjust accordingly. Note: for a while, you will likely be earning less than almost everyone else in your office. This is not a grievous injustice.
You just spent four years explaining your work to students and professors—people who know color theory, who know who Paul Rand is, who know exactly what “vertical rhythm” means. Be prepared to explain your work to clients—people who might not even know what a typeface is—because they’ll be paying you from now on.
The ability to communicate effectively is a powerful skill, so stop writing like a student and start writing like a professional adult human being. Poor writing is bad, but “awkward formality” isn’t far behind.
Difficult conversations are better had in person or over the phone, not via email, chat, or text messages. Learn to embrace one-on-one communication with co-workers and clients, particularly when delivering bad news. This is also important when you want something (like a nicer chair or a new monitor), and especially when you want something bigger (like a promotion or a raise).
Be assertive. A lot of people might tell you to keep your mouth shut—and that’s not a bad idea at first—but long-term that will earn you a reputation as a pushover. Voice your thoughts positively and constructively, especially if someone asks for it.
Good luck out there. Your education is just beginning.