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10 things you will only learn on the job

Leave the classrooms at school. This is the real world

Nairita Mukherjee Noir_Memoir 28 May 2018, 2:37 PM
Let the devil wear Prada or anything else; you wear your attitude on your sleeves

Let the devil wear Prada or anything else; you wear your attitude on your sleeves Image: Facebook

Aha!  We see that you've already completed our resume writing 101 and acing an interview 101. And now the obvious progression is on-the-job training 101.

This one's important because here's where your dreams will be shattered (nope, Santa Clause doesn't exist). It is a place you will remember for the rest of your life, and tell stories about. That is, if you survive.

'Cuz be rest assured that nothing you learnt at home, at school, as a child or as a good citizen of the country will come in handy within these four walls. You basically need to unlearn a bunch of things and learn things you never thought were relevant on the job. Here's a crash course. Trust us, bookmark this page, you will need it later. 

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Attitude over aptitude
In the long run, people succeed because of their skills. In the beginning, it's always their enthusiasm or willingness to work that gets them noticed. As the editor of your college journal, you may have written many moving pieces, but on the job, if you're asked to write about a watch, you write about it with the same conviction.

Checking and rechecking
Proofreading your emails, rechecking if you've filed that letter from despatch, browsing to see if you've forgotten to deliver any messages — these don't make you paranoid. They basically set you apart from the rest who will invariably miss out on small details because they didn't go back and cross check. And this distinction will come in handy during appraisals.

Managing your manager
Whatever fancy designation the HR has thrown at you, your actual job is to make your manager's life easy. That means, you not only make sure your work is clean and doesn't need his/her attention but you also sometimes go out of your way and offer to do part of their work. This will show that you're proactive and put you in their good books. 

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Suck it up
There are things we've all done on our first jobs that we are not proud of. But you consciously train yourself to do it anyway. It's hard, it will be physically painful, you might even feel your brain and muscles closing up because of your sheer reluctance to do something. But you just have to suck it up and do it.

Dress for the job you want, not the one you have
I want to be Meghan Markle, should I dress like her? No. You just dress better than your peers. People may not admit it but they are basically always judging others on the basis of their clothing. Invest in good shoes (people are always looking at your shoes), belts and bags. And a pedicure (please pick a subtle nail colour) will get you a long way, too. 

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Work-home balance
It's not possible for you to switch off your phone after work as some of your senior colleagues might tell you. And there's absolutely no point cribbing about being called to work after the designated hours. So the balance is really not how many hours you spend at work vs at home. It's in your head — you prioritising work today is an investment; so do it without feeling crappy. This way, even if you get just one hour at home, you're not talking about your horrible boss during that time.

Colleagues are not your friends
Shocked? Well, they may become so over time, but to assume everyone always has your best interests at heart is stupid. Some will turn out to be mouthpieces, while others will be back-stabbers. So, take your time to figure people out and till then, keep your guards up. Be a bit selfish, it's okay. 

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Be open to criticism
You will make mistakes, over and over again. And the sooner you learn that, the better. So, every time you make a mistake, be prepared for a few words of criticism from your boss or seniors, too. Some of it will be constructive, and the rest will be intimidation. Keep the first part and brush off the rest. It's easier said than done, though. Keep practising.

Don't burn bridges
Eventually, there will be a colleague (or even your boss) you will absolutely not get along with. And while you may swear to never work in the same office as them, odds are most likely against it. So, be smart and never ever get into an altercation. And this goes for the administration as well. You never know if 10 years down the line, you will be considering an opportunity with the same company. 

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Don't get too attached
Your first job is definitely not the place where you start feeling complacent. Keep pushing yourself to do more. If you feel you've learnt all that you could from this job, move on. There will be ample time to find stability, right now, focus on being dynamic and acquiring skills.

(With inputs from Greeshma Thampi, chief image consultant and director, Avancé Image Management, and Kalyani Kamble, personal excellence coach)

Read more:

Five personal development courses you can sign up for on Coursera

Thou shall not be seen making these mistakes on your resume

The Interview: Things you will be judged on and how you can ace it

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