Even if you’re not willing to admit it, being an upperclassman in college makes everyone feel a little more important. You’re experienced in studying (read: cramming) for midterms, your major has been declared and you know exactly which classes to take (and which professors to avoid). Being older means you’re the wise one, the one freshmen look up to and think “wow, they really have their ~stuff~ together.” After you graduate that kind of all changes. Once you jump into the big ocean that is the working world you’re a little fish again, inexperienced and a bit naïve. (Even if you’re not willing to admit it…)
No longer feeling like you’ve got a handle on things, or feeling like you have the right answers (or can at least fake having all the right answers) can feel a bit overwhelming. If you’re anything like me, feeling naïve can take a real stab at your confidence, and you can get a bit hushed when it comes to asking for want you want or need in the work place. (It took me 3 months to feel comfortable enough to ask for vacation days. Yikes!)
You shouldn’t let anyone, including yourself, make you feel like you can’t speak up or ask for what you want just because you’re new or young or inexperienced. I’m not saying go crazy and demand your own corner office with a view and personal Keurig, but if you’ve been absolutely slaying at your job for a year you should feel comfortable asking for a raise. Want to use your vacation days to go on a trip for a week? Do it! Sick and feel like you’re dying? Take a sick day. (Goodness, please take a sick day. No one wants to get sick, and I’m sure you want to get better.)
Here are a few tips from someone who’s been there and got over the scary newness of the working world.
Remember that everyone has been exactly where you are
Unless your boss is some kind of super genius who jumped right from college to a high level position in a company, they’ve been exactly where you are. It’s called entry level for a reason…that’s how people enter the work force. Just because you’re not the head analyst or managing editor doesn’t mean you’re not allowed to take a break.
Take a second and sneak a look around the room
The people I work with always meet deadlines and get their work done and I assumed they were insanely focused all day. One afternoon I was being particularly unproductive and I took a peek around the room. One of my coworkers was playing around on Facebook, another was reading a gaming blog and a third was on her phone. I noticed that at any given time someone in the office is usually taking a break from work. It made me feel a lot better about allowing myself to take small breaks throughout the day.
Don’t overthink it
When I first started working I was constantly thinking about the performance review looming in the future. Did this make me a hyper-focused worker? Yes. Was it in any way beneficial? No, and I’ll tell you why. Only trying to do a good job because you’re concerned about getting fired if you make a single mistake is unhealthy. Very unhealthy. You should be working hard because you love your job or want to take pride in your work, or maybe even both.
The people you work with are real people too
By this I mean to say that they’re not just your coworkers, they’re humans that exist in this universe and aren’t going to fault you for every little mistake you make. Here’s a great example. Earlier this week I was sitting at my desk working on an article when my phone rang. I instinctually went to grab my phone, knocked over my water glass which proceeded to spill all over my desk, and yelled a curse word (this is a school blog so I’ll keep it PG) all before finally answering the phone. Rather than hard core judge me, my coworkers laughed and grabbed me a towel. Just because you make a fool of yourself every once in a while doesn’t mean you’re going to be exiled, doomed to eat lunch alone forever.
You were hired for a reason
This is a piece of advice I got from my amazing mom. Every time I get nervous about talking to my boss about something she always says “You were hired for a reason, Katie.” That’s really stuck with me because it’s true. They didn’t play eenie meenie miney moe and just happen to pick my resume, and I can guarantee they didn’t do that for you either. You were hired because the company/HR/interviewer person liked what they saw and wanted you to be a part of the team. Just remember that to be where you are right now they had to want you first. They’re not going to get rid of you because you have the flu or want to take off time to go on a trip with your family.