LEARNING LIFE|| How To Naturally Thrive In Your First Month In The Workforce

7 minutes read

Hey Tribe,

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.

Research, Research!!

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.



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

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14 thoughts on “LEARNING LIFE|| How To Naturally Thrive In Your First Month In The Workforce

  1. Nice write-up! That part about having to stand up everytime your boss comes in.. I can totally relate. It can be really annoying but yeah, we have to respect the status quo.

  2. Aunty DeeDee I feel you jare, another thing that has helped me so far is to resume everyday with the mindset that you are there to work, so when they say go and buy me a pen…..you just accept it as part of work rather than thinking “hey it’s beneath me”. As always nice post Desire

    1. Honestly, at this initial stage I think it’s better to just buy the pen and move on with life. It’s all a part of the journey. We would have a lot of stories to tell.
      Thank you so much Ore baby!

  3. This post is going to be really helpful to me soon as I am in my final year. All these tips seem like really great ways to fit in the workplace esp the one about being quiet and observant. That is one of my main strengths anywhere I am, Just observing how things are done so I’d know the right way to fit in. Great post Desire!
    My Fashion Musings

    1. Yayyy Subomi is here! I love your blog!
      Yes oh, it’s great to actually observe properly, it’s one of the most important factors, no joke.
      Thank you so much for your kind words

  4. Such a nice write up. It reminds me of when I just joined the workforce as well. I find that having lunch helps you bond with team members. So if you can have lunch with your boss once in a while, that’s good to see a different part of them outside the workplace. Never say no to any offer for lunch or breakfast. that’s one good thing I’ve learned overtime.
    I wish you the very best !

  5. Late comment, but then better late than never. I agree with taking time to observe the environment on a new job. It really does help to fit in well. Then the respect thing does help too to be on the safe side.
    It’s good to work hard too, though it can be to one’s detriment. The reward for hard work is certainly more work and my new job is living proof of that, but then you still have to work. Pens down here.
    Well done Desire, really nice write up.

    1. It’s really true what you said about work turning to more work, also experiencing it in my new job, but it’s part of the experience and I am learning to handle it and shave some work off respectfully slowly but surely. Thank you so much for your comment Mayowa!

  6. I love your blog feel and look desire.
    Thank you for the tips, I was actually observant in my own little way and It payed off!
    Asking the right people is important because alot of false information is flying around

    1. Aww, Funke, you came!!!
      Thank you so much.
      I was fretting so much when I started working and I dreaded the whole concept, but slowly but surely, you start to grow into it.
      Observation is very key, so we don’t make regrettable mistakes.
      Also, it’s important to be genuninely respectful oh, to those above and under, people tend to ‘respect’ that in people.
      Wishing you all the very best!!

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