Student Stories

The Reality 3 Weeks Into The Working World

Having graduated two months ago and been working for three weeks, I’m slowly transitioning into and trying to get used to the work life. I’m still testing it out, figuring out my routine, and trying to find my favorite café and sandwich spots.  Here are some of my pointers I wish I would have known before transitioning to the 9 to 5 routine.

You are here to learn

Most new hires don’t really know what they are doing when they first start. My first two weeks were really slow because I didn’t have many responsibilities. I went around asking for work. But when I did finally get projects, I was almost clueless on what to do! Thankfully my co-workers all understood that and really helped me. The learning curve is steep but I’m catching on!

You probably have a million questions on the projects thrown at you. Ask them. It’s intimidating, but most people are happy to help! That being said, don’t ask a question every five minutes about something a simple Google search couldn’t solve. So do your research first. Instead of saying, “How do I do this,” say “I tried this, but this is what went wrong, should I try that instead?”

Don’t learn just enough to know how to finish one project; know why things are done the way they are. It’s harder understanding the reasoning behind the projects when you first start, but eventually you want to know your job inside out. Learn it by heart so it doesn’t come back to haunt you. 

Be ready to be on your own

A big difference between working full-time and interning in the summer is that you can’t automatically assume someone will tell you what to do. People in your office are busy. They expect you to be able to learn and act independently. Don’t sit around and expect someone to plan your daily activities. Learn to quickly take on responsibilities and become an asset to the office!

Learn the culture. But don’t be afraid to be that awesome person

Most companies want to make sure that you are a good fit for their culture. It’s important to test out the atmosphere at your office. You don’t want to wear sandals to your business casual office. But it’s also important to know that you can be that awesome person that brings fun and pleasant changes! I have an office job at a consulting firm. We sit in cubicles and are usually very busy during the day. But when someone rallies the team for a farmer’s market lunch outing or happy hour on a Friday afternoon, people are more than happy to participate, especially when you are the young one in the office.

Go out there and have fun

Unlike college, you don’t have as much control over your schedule anymore (you can’t decide to skip work the way you decided to skip class). You no longer live close to all your friends, and you are exhausted after a 9 to 5 day. You guys in college must be thinking, oh no, what they said about work life is true! Well, not entirely. If you remember to have fun and actively make plans, you can still meet a lot of new people and have exciting adventures!

Unless you absolutely cling to privacy, I recommend having roommates when you first start working. It’s nice to have constant companions that you can come home to and talk about your daily musings. And it doesn’t hurt to save on rent either.

Keep exploring

Last but not the least, remember that your first job is very unlikely to be your last job. Not to say you should constantly look to jump ship, but continue to network and keep your options open. Be the one to say, “I’m ready!” when opportunities arise.

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Kalyn Yang

My name is Kalyn Yang and I’m a recent grad from UC Berkeley with a double degree in Applied Math and Economics. I’m currently working in the financial district in San Francisco and working on becoming a certified actuary! I love traveling, playing the piano, and salsa dancing! I take my time to make delicious food and would always appreciate a good book. I believe that attitude determines altitude, and that living the moment fosters happiness. Find me on LinkedIn and my personal blog