11 Steps To Surviving Your First Job In America's Corporate Wasteland

I wish I had someone to forewarn me about the perilous corporate wasteland, otherwise known as "the office" before I graduated.

Sure, I had my fair share of jobs while I pursued my college degree, but prior to graduation, I had never worked for a large conglomerate before.

In fact, prior to this, it had all been government temping, horror stories of working in retail and part-time admin work.

So when I began my first day at my new corporate job, I was a fresh-faced 23-year-old with very little understanding of how to deal with the jaded views of hardened office workers.

In fact, my enthusiasm was so apparent, one of the managers looked like she was going to vomit whenever I volunteered for more work.

It’s been a good few years since I left that company, and with the very limited wisdom I've gained, here are 11 pieces of advice I would have appreciated before I began my climb up the slippery totem pole we like to call a career:

1. When you start, be friendly, but don’t be too eager.

We all know you want to make a good impression. But, there is not so much a fine line as there is a tightrope over a 300-foot drop if you come across as a kiss-ass.

2. Try your best not to get involved in office politics.

You don’t want to hinder your chance of escape or promotion.

3. As you begin to settle in, don’t be afraid to say no once in a while.

If you can identify what tasks you could do and what work you are actually responsible for, the power is yours.

4. Look for colleagues in your office who you can actually befriend.

There’s a difference between those who you see yourself hanging out with outside of work and those who will firmly stay in the acquaintance zone.

5.  Mask your disdain for the coworkers you can't stand with passive-aggressive comments and ill-disguised sarcasm.

Because suppressing these urges is unnatural and wrong.

6. Start looking through hilarious LOLcat memes.

Once you start working in an office, you will understand the reasons why.

Send them to friends. They will congratulate you on your work ethic.

7. Be aware of changes around you.

You should specifically be aware of "restructures," which is corporate code for, “We’re getting rid of the majority of the work force."

8. If all goes well and you survive this, then prepare to fight for that promotion with Ian (the playful extrovert) on the second floor in marketing.


9. Take anything human resources tells you with a pinch of salt.

It's all probably lies, anyway. Again, refer to number five of this post.

10. When you do move on to new pastures (aka a better job at the rival company), try not to be too smug.

It may be hard for some colleagues, who will take it a bit too personally when you decide to move on.

11. Be sure to delete all your emails before you leave the company.

Throughout your time at said-company, you will invariably send inappropriate emails to your friends and family.

If you do this from your work account, then for the love of God, delete all emails before you go.

Do not do as I did, which was frantically go through my entire inbox looking for any non-work related emails on my very last day.

Take this advice, and use it wisely.