Adjusting to office culture as a recent grad: a primer
Graduating college may be a monumental milestone in your life, but it can also be a scary one. Soon, you’ll be trading in your carefree days for the structure of a full-time job. We’re not going to lie – it is quite the culture shock With that in mind, this blog will equip you with strategies which will help to make your transition to office life easier.
Get plenty of sleep during the week
During college, bedtimes are relative: 1 am after watching SportsCenter, stumbling off to bed at 3 am after a killer night out at the bar, 8 am after an epic all-nighter (term papers can be rough!). Once you start working a 9 to 5 office job, though, habitually staying up after Midnight will sap you of your energy. Try being an active contributor in Monday morning meetings or getting reports done while nodding off half the time.
Not the best first impression if you ask us.
Instead, get to bed between 11 pm and Midnight. Depending on the length of your commute, this will likely allow you to get the 7-8 hours of sleep needed per night you’ll need to function optimally. Not sure how to get from dozing off at 4 am to your new reality? Give yourself 2-3 weeks before the start of your new job to realign your sleep schedule – go to bed 10-15 minutes earlier per night, and wake up 10-15 minutes earlier each morning. Before long, you’ll be in sync with your new life routine – while this may be tough, try to keep the same sleep times on the weekend as well.
Practice good workstation ergonomics
We don’t think we need to tell you this, but spending hours hunched over a computer pounding out an assignment or a 30 page term paper … sucks.
Now, imagine doing this every day for years on end – this is what many office jobs are like. If your workstation is poorly structured, you’ll feel it in your wrists, shoulders, neck, and back before long. Don’t accept these aches and pains as a badge of honour – if left unchecked, poor posture caused by bad office ergonomics can lead to chronic injuries.
Check your workspace as soon as you are assigned one. If your arms aren’t parallel to your thighs, adjust your chair to correct the situation. If this isn’t enough, ask HR for an adjustable keyboard tray. Phones should not be wedged between your neck and shoulder – hold the receiver in your hand. If you are on the phone a lot, get a headset.
Have to crane your neck downward to look at your computer monitor? Adjust the height of the monitor/laptop using blocks/books so you can view it while keeping your head in neutral position.
Finally, get up from your station at least once per hour. Excessive sitting has been flagged as a cardiovascular/obesity/cancer risk, so don’t feel guilty about hitting up the water cooler often – you’re minding your health, after all!
Avoid office drama
Humans are social creatures – given the opportunity, we’ll find ways to interact with each other. However, not all conversations in the workplace are as wholesome as you might think. While sports scores, reality TV, and current events are all common topics discussed in the lunch room, some choose to spread gossip about co-workers.
Jason L recommends staying well clear of these conversations. Eventually, word will get around to the target, creating drama in which you don’t want to get entangled. Take the high road and avoid discussing personal issues in the workplace – your professional reputation will thank you for it!
Save partying for the weekend
Think your days of throwing ragers are about to come to a screeching halt? Well, kinda – you won’t last long in a professional environment if you insist on going out four nights per week.
Trust us – we all know that hungover look, and coming in smelling like booze will get you sent to addictions counselling if it doesn’t get you fired. That said, we’ve all graduated college, and our social lives are still intact – you just need to be more intelligent about how you blow off steam.
Friday and Saturday nights are fair game: go nuts – just keep party pictures off the publicly accessible parts of your social media accounts. All other nights of the week require a lighter approach – a quiet drink or two at the pub while watching the game is fine. Pounding back ten is not. You may be bummed about cutting back on drinking at first, but you’ll appreciate nights out more, and your wallet and waistline will be better off in the long run.