When you're in your early 20's and starting your first “adult” job, it's easy to become intimidated by your much older, experienced peers. But, everyone starts somewhere and when you're starting out, you've got quite a bit to prove.
As someone who was fortunate enough to finish college early, I found myself fully thrusted into the workplace and starting my journalism career at the early age of 21. I landed my first job as an Associate Editor of a trade publication with no prior journalism experience. Instead, I brought with me above par grades, a semi-relevant internship (publicity at Sony BMG), and the willingness to learn. But regardless of any previous achievements, no prior work experience means you've got a lot to prove.
Breakdown Stereotypes of the Young and Inexperienced
Unfortunately, no matter how smart you are, you've already got a strike against you: your age. Being young, you may be perceived as someone who ventures out to alcohol fueled parties nearly every night a week, you're consumed by social media, or still living under your parents' rooftop. While these may all be true, you can do several things to garner respect from your older counterparts:
Don't be the first person out the door when 5:00 hits
This is a bad habit to get into at any age. Also, staying too late makes it appear to others that you may be incapable of doing your job. Instead arrive 10-15 minutes early and stay a few minutes late. It shows you are making an effort without going overboard. And trust me, your boss and co-workers will take notice.
Save the leather pants and low-cut blouses for the weekends
If leather pants and stiletto nails are the latest fashion and you work in a conservative environment, I'd advise you not to wear this look to work. Reserve it for the weekends when going out with friends. Unless you work for Cosmo or some other fashion-fueled company, dress relatively conservative and incorporate suits and blazers into your wardrobe to make you appear mature and serious about your career.
Ask many, many questions
No one just knows how to do their job in their first week or even their first few months. Nothing is worse than someone who starts off thinking they “know it all.” Instead ask relevant questions, take good notes, and speak up during meetings. You'll be surprised how much better you will become at your job in doing so.
Don't take advantage and cut corners
Long lunch break, taking short-cuts, spending more time surfing the Internet than working; these are just a few things young people are guilty of. Although everyone around you may seem to be doing it, this is a bad practice and oftentimes grounds for termination. Many companies have staff employed to check for this kind of behavior or software installed on computers to monitor this, so plain and simple, don't do it.
Say no to alcohol
Many corporate jobs involve travel and with travel comes networking events and outings that oftentimes serve free alcohol. It may be hard to turn down, but know your limits and drink moderately or not at all. Nothing is worse than going on a business trip and doing something you may regret or get you fired later.
Christina Nicole | Elite.