I can’t believe it has been exactly a year since I finished my final exams!! Looking at the pictures of the Class of 2017 that just completed exams gives me major feels. After going through the struggle of what the hell am I doing?, it feels quite good to be here, one step at a time.
This time last year, I was thinking about starting internship and having my own little desk which I would arrange in a cute, inviting way complete with a jar of ‘candy’, just I had seen on some of my favourite blogs.
Now, one year later, I can only laugh so hard at myself for thinking this way. No, really, the reality right now is rather different (at least as an intern pharmacist in a Government-run hospital).
Well, I have not had so much experience, but I have had one private sector job (which I thrived in, if I do say so myself) and one in the municipal sector for a few months, and I have learnt a couple of things which I believe are valid for both aspects.
Coming into the workforce as a fresh off the boat graduate can be a bit nerve wracking, especially if you don’t know the people or the environment (I’ve been there!), these tips should help ease you into it.
Honestly, these are not mind-blowing facts. More than anything, I believe they are highly forgotten but important practicalities you would face as a newcomer in the labour force.
Be Quiet and Observant
As someone whose New Year resolutions always includes ‘Desire, you really should talk less’, this was really important for me.
Even if you want to ‘show yourself’, give yourself (and others) some time to observe the environment, see how things go.
Are you in a liberal environment as regards speaking? Are people always quiet in the morning and more outgoing later in the day (or vice-versa)? Look out for details.
Is there more or less ‘freedom’ when the boss shows up? Is there a great environment for you to showcase your side hustle? (If not, take out time to think about how to create such a space)
Which co-worker(s) seem(s) like your kind of girl/guy? You could make him/her your Frolleague (as Kachee says).
Also, watch out for a great mentor, not necessarily someone much older or anything, but someone who has more experience with the organization or field you are involved in.
Personally, I believe the private sector requires more in the ‘observance’ department, because they usually have more structured targets and rules, so I would advise that you really watch out for those and act accordingly.
Take brunch/lunch/dinner, if possible
As a self-professed foodie, I really do not enjoy working an 8-4 with an empty stomach, and the people around me do not seem to either. The lady who sells snacks around the office has made a lot of money from us.
Hunger leads to grumpiness and untimely tiredness, and it reduces productivity. It doesn’t have to be something huge, just know thyself and please make out time to prepare/buy food accordingly. Wake up 15 minutes earlier to get this done.
In case you’re wondering why dinner is up there, it’s for my fellow nocturnal workers, please do yourself this courtesy.
Now, you have gotten this job either via distinction or through your ‘connect’, good for you!
How is this organization run? What are the goals of this organization? What is the absolute no-no and must-do? What department is known to be ‘the most stressful’?
So, who is your boss? Your boss’ boss? Your boss’ boss’ boss?.. You see where I am going with this already.
Will you get your own cubicle? Your own permanent seating space? Or not?
From my experience, a lot of knowledge about Government-run establishments (in Nigeria, at least) can be obtained by word-of-mouth.
Now, if you have ‘heard’ so much about this organization and you have come in with a mindset to be a harbinger of change, you’d really need to actually know how things are run, and how you can make little changes within your capacity.
Remember, you are at the lowest rung of the ladder so your change mantra will have to begin slowly, but persistently as good things take time.
Find out as much as you can about the structure of your workplace, the principles, so you can prepare for the disappointments and thrills too.
Ask Relevant Questions… To The Right People
A part of me thinks this is literally the same as the tip above, but the rest of me thinks it is too important.
You have to give yourself room to learn for yourself. As great as it is for you to learn from the mistakes of others, there are certain mistakes you need to make yourself. We still need to allow ourselves grow and learn ourselves.
This is especially true about opinions about other people at work, from bosses to co-workers. The fact that he does not like your boss does not mean that you should not either. Listen to them, so you are not caught off guard if they are right, but still give enough room for your own estimation.
Also, if you have questions that you truly feel need answers from someone specific, walk up politely and ask politely.
What’s the absolute worst that can happen? The person will dose some momentary embarrassment which everyone will eventually forget, and maybe you’ll just not ask some other time. It would definitely be an unpleasant experience, but not a fatal one, trust me.
As they say, the best time to try… and fail is when you are young.
Stand On Existing Protocol
aka Respect the status quo
For example, Nigeria is a land where ‘Ma’ and ‘Sir’ are the colours of the flag of respect, so biko just add it to your vocabulary and make constant use of it.
Just like you, I don’t really understand it, but it is what it is.
Look out for the lingua franca of your workplace, understand it and learn how to work with, without or against it as time goes on. Take some time to figure it out.
If you have to stand up every single time your boss comes in or pause and allow him/her pass on the stairs, no matter the direction either of you is going, biko, just do it. As long as it isn’t an inherently insulting act, please let it go, at least at this infant stage of your career. Better days are coming!!
Honesty Is The Best Policy
No matter the tribe, country, upbringing, religion, one value we all know and agree with is Honesty.
Look, honestly, I love Nigeria, but we are in a place seems to be all but appreciated. However, in this short time as a worker, I have seen that it is still deeply prized especially by the only kind of people you actually need on your side- good people.
Albeit difficult to find, they are there! My first boss is living proof.
I would still like to implore you to help our society be better by holding on to this significant character, its slipping away way too fast and for myopic reasons too. Most of those things won’t matter in two years. This job is just preliminary, it is not best to sacrifice your ethics (this, I learnt from my wise parents).
If you cannot beat them, please do not join them. We have a liberal amount of people on that team. Stand firm! Na kuku only you your mama carry for belle.*
I am still learning a lot and will still learn so very much, but these points above were (and still are) very valid for me as a JJC* Nigerian worker, and I know some of them, at least, would come in handy for you.
To my fellow garden- fresh workforce recruits, Godspeed!!
Well, about that cute table… I have not gotten it yet, but hey, next job, maybe? What absurd thoughts about the workforce have you had?
So, what do you think? What other do’s and don’ts do you have for us? Have you had a great experience in the labour force or nah?
Let’s know in the comments!
*JJC– Nigerian term for a beginner, learner or an inexperienced person.
*Na kuku only you your mama carry for belle – You came into this world alone, so be your own person, no matter what.
P.S. Living in Delta State has literally changed me, I coined that sentence above while writing this post.
VENI. VIDI. AMAVI.
Let’s play catch up:
Life Recently || I Failed Woefully!!
To Biola, To Benedicta || We Will Always Remember
Desire’s Waka|| When I Actually Thought I Might Die
Six Couples You Definitely M(e)et In University