3 Realities You Will Face in Your First Job and What To Do About Them

Credit: Aleks Dorohovich

Credit: Aleks Dorohovich

Starting a new job is a melting pot of emotions.

You’re nervous but stoked to actually have a job that pays you money. You spent a week selecting the perfect outfit and you have memorised your bus route to get there.

So what should you expect? Here are my top three realities you will face in your first job and what to do about them.

1. You will be the bottom of the food chain
The first to be given the photocopying, the first to shout after work drinks and the last to be told anything. This isn’t university, you gotta start from the bottom and strap on your climbing shoes.

Yes the bottom of the ladder is cold and dark and kinda smells but this is the perfect place for one thing: mistakes. Mistakes are essential to the development of any 20 something’s career and this is the best time to make them, when your down a dark hole and only a few people will notice. Climbing up the rungs of your career will not only get you smell free but will also put you in the spotlight the higher and higher you climb. Do yourself a favour and make all of your f**k ups now. You will want to learn from them later when the eyes of the Executive Board are on you.

2. You have to go every day. For 8 hours
My average day at university was 4 hours. Maybe 5 or 6 and then 14hrs before final exams. This did not prepare me AT ALL for the physical and mental stamina it takes getting your butt through a full working week. The first few weeks, I walked around in a daze, confused about how to keep this up for 40 years and spending nights eating microwaved food and going to bed at 8:00pm.

The flip side of this employment train that never seems to stop? It is preparing you for when you’ll need to stay behind 3 hours to meet that deadline or close that deal. It will give you a background in work ethic that is arsenal for shooting up the career ladder. I’m not suggesting the best 20 something workers stay back 4 hours every night, but it take GUTS to advance your career and a good work ethic certainly helps.

3. Virtually nothing of what you learnt at university is useful
This came to me as an epiphany when I first started work and realised I knew pretty much nothing. Luckily, I had done some work experience and internships during university, because the theoretical aspects taught me next to nothing. The real world is very different outside of the classroom and this can be overwhelming and kick your confidence in the balls (as if you weren’t feeling scared enough being the newbie!).

Here is the good news though, you will never reach a point in your career where you know less. Once you have mastered some key skills, things seem more manageable. Of course you will be constantly tackling new obstacles, but with a foundation of essential knowledge, things flow a lot easier and you will be more confident. I promise!

Have you encountered any of these realities in your first job? Was there a different one that struck you the most? Let me know in the comments below!

Much love and till later

Sez xx

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5 Ways To Spring Clean Your Finances This June….And Other Working Girl Sagas

Credit: Vadim Sherbakov

Credit: Vadim Sherbakov

This Wednesday’s Working Girl Saga I’m looking at money. Pounds, dollars, yen, whatever you call it it makes the world go around and is the sole reason we put up with Candy the world’s most incompetent receptionist.

Every year around this time I have a little freakout about the state of my finances and wrack my brain on how to fill in my tax return again. Yes it’s sad and pathetic but it is a vicious cycle I am trying to get out of. Starting now.

So here’s the 5 things I’m committing to doing this June to improve the organisation of my finances. Well by appearances at least.

1. Go to the bank

Ok so not a difficult task but as soon as you start a real grown up job where you actually have to attend 8 hours a day or you will get fired (Toto we’re not at university anymore) it is hard. You end up working through your lunch break or cancel on your bank date in favour of Tuesday afternoon drinks. Seriously though just do it. Go and cash the cheques that have gathering in your purse, or deposit your piggy bank or enquire about that high savings account. It’s like going to the gym, you will feel better for it afterwards and you won’t get nearly as sweaty!

2. Review your direct debits

Over the years I had accrued quite a few direct debits that have been secretly coming out of my account and bleeding my wealth (not that you can really call $5.00 wealth). My half of the internet every month, the fortnightly rent, my gym membership, the girl’s week away to Koh Samui. It all adds up. Have 16 pairs of coloured nikes but none of them have actually seen a gym floor? Cancel your membership. Could you pay off the holiday out of your next pay and just go a little skint for a week or so? Get your butt to the travel agent. Consider saving up and paying your car insurance and registration in one lot as well. You do not want you bank statement be harder to decipher than Charlie Sheen’s marriage history.

3. Become a paperwork demon

A couple of years ago I bought a crappy second hand filing cabinet for $30 and crammed all of my paperwork in it. Step one done. Then a few months later I actually got down to organising it all and now it has saved me HOURS of searching under my bed and ringing the bank saying “Yes I did get that letter about my account being overdrawn… but I think my dog ate it?’. It’s tedious, and kinda frightening to see how many categories of paperwork you will have but trust me, just do it. You will feel so much better afterwards.

4. Get help

Not of the psychotherapy kind but from a finance professional. The older we get, the more “Financy Stuff” is relevant to us and no longer can I rely on filling out my tax return based on the sections that I understand. With buying houses and making more money comes mortgages, term deposits and all sorts of other jargon that sends some of our skin crawling. Do yourself a favour and get a friend who understand this stuff to help you. Or as a last resort as your parents. I know, it’s drastic and there will probably be an accompanying lecture of some kind but they will have good advice. I mean they’re old, they know about these adult stuff right?

5. Superman!

Last year I changed jobs and accumulated yet another superannuation account. Once I realised I had more of them then I did high heels, I knew I had to do something about it. After too much paperwork and a little going back and forth between old employers I combined ALL of my accounts into the current one and then commenced a little happy super dance. You will lose SO much money in fees having hundreds of accounts open, and you might not care now, but your future 70 year old self will kick your skinny ass when you can’t afford that 6 speed gopher you have been eyeing off.

Now that we’re feeling jubilant about our finances on the lead up to July 1st let’s celebrate with a little funds related tune. See even finances can be cool!

10 Ways to Recognise a Twenty Something Employee

Credit: Nadir Balcikli

Credit: Nadir Balcikli

These days we are not an endangered species but proliferating throughout every industry at an alarming rate (man I love to use big words at 7:30 in the morning). The twenty something worker. New, fresh faced, trying to desperately impress but inside totally freaking out. Sound familiar? Twenty somethings are bringing a whole new attitude to workplaces everywhere, and I hope we are embraced because we have so much to offer. However, one thing we are not is subtle. Here are 10 ways to pick a twenty something employee out from a mile away…

1. We know more about the Kardashians then is technically legal. And we unfortunately forgot that before we blurted out every fact we know at the latest corporate dinner. And inadvertently pushed our level of maturity back 5 years…. 

2. We would be happy to stay back a couple of hours tonight or set up for the event on a Saturday; we would love the experience and to improve on our skills. Oh wait, you’re not paying me or give me the time off another day? Oh right actually I think I have to make dinner for my cat tonight…. she gives Grumpy Cat a run for his money when she is kept waiting….

3. We have low tolerance for long meetings that are not beneficial to our tasks. Twenty somethings get in, get the information they need and get out. Want to know how long our attention spans are for something we are not interested in? Think how long it takes to make 2 minutes noodles. Only slightly longer than that.

4. We are the first to embrace new technologies and will have the new office software down pat before you have even found the on switch. But don’t worry we are also more than happy to lend a hand to the “oldies” (and subsequently get fired for referring to you as said “oldies”).

5. We will be the ones filling the office fridge with quinoa and chia seed salad and downing disgusting green smoothie concoctions for our morning pick me up. Or we’ll be the one who cant afford anything except for stale donuts and litres of instant coffee. Really it’s a 50:50 chance.  

6. We are the first to suggest Friday night drinks. Or Tuesday night drinks. Or Thursday lunch time I-have-a-huge-report-to-write-this-afternoon drinks. We claim we are just doing our part to support the city’s publicans.

7. We have utmost respect for any colleague who is older than us. So virtually everyone. But remember with twenty somethings you only get a couple of chances to make a good first impression. We were taught if you have nothing nice to say don’t say anything at all and we’ve decided we will never like you and hence the awkward silence.

8. We are the sharing generation. We will tell you about how we had a “fully mad” weekend with the girls, spent 12 hours watching Sex and The City reruns on our day off, or didn’t have time to do washing this week. We suggest you just nod and smile. It’s the safe response. 

9. We will try hard to fit in with “grownup” conversation and learn who Gaddafi was, the year the Cold War ended and how the stock market is looking. But then we’ll admit we don’t know how to boil rice, and thought Meatloaf was an American dinnertime staple.

10. We are attacking our careers with a ferocity not seen in any generation. We have been blessed with the opportunity for great education, supportive families and an overdose of the “Can Do Attitude” they injected into our milk. We are passionate about accounting, dentistry or rubbish collection and are ready to scale up the ladder as quickly as we can. We are hard workers and not afraid to ask questions to fill in our knowledge gaps so we can then takeover your position. We are a little stubborn and don’t respond the best to old age mentality (but WHY do we have to do it that way? My idea would be much faster….) We are entrepreneurial, creative and when we get a bee in our bonnet you will hear about it.

But that’s why you employed us in the first place. 

Much love and till later

Sez xx

When You Need To Suck It Up At Work – And Other Working Girl Sagas

Credit: Alejandro Escamilla

Credit: Alejandro Escamilla

As a twenty something I have done my fair share of complaining in my lifetime. “Aw I don’t want to clean my room”, “Aw it’s only 3am are you seriously closing already?” but among all of the whining and whinging, I am often reminded of a little something my parents taught me…
Sometimes you just gotta suck it up.
This valuable lesson can be learned in all aspects of life but is best demonstrated in the workplace. At work you have a boss (unless you are your own boss and this really doesn’t apply to you so take your entrepreneurial amazingness elsewhere cause you’re making the rest of us jealous) and they are God. If they are Queen Victoria you are all of the humble English peasants desperate for some cake (wrong queen?). They speak, you listen.
Once you get your first job out of university (and probably your second or third job as well), life turns a blind eye to all the wheedling and procrastinating you’ve become so good at and puts you Highway One to “Yes Town”. Yes Town is full of obligations, responsibilities and nodding heads and its population is you. It has a dodgy reputation among some of its neighbouring suburbs (including Funsville and Drunk City) but will prove to be a lot more useful.
There are things I get asked to do everyday at work that I don’t want to do. Cold calling, awkward conflict resolution, epic workloads and tasks completely out of my job description. Do I whine like a tiny puppy or bow before Queen Victoria and suck it up? I think you know. In fact this has happened so many times that I developed a personal mantra I use for moments when I feel like a hissy fit would be a more appropriate reaction. It’s just a few words:
“Suck it up Sez, you can do it”
Yep it’s corny and yep it belongs in an Instagram motivational picture but it WORKS. Although it may seem like a nightmare at the time, sucking it up can have an amazing outcome when you least expect it. I’ve certainly had awkward work conversations that I’ve stayed up all night dreading which have then turned out to be: totally ok. And I’ve gone to meetings where I was expecting a blasting to be told I’m doing a fully sick job and to keep rocking it. Ok so it wasn’t in those words but you get the point.
The fear you have of learning a new skill, interacting with different colleagues or taking on responsibility for something you thought was out of your league can actually be a blessing. Sure it’s scary and it can kinda make you wanna pee your pants but it is worth it. I’m now a total pro at cold calling and am the first person to say no to an unrealistic workload.
I hope to take my mantra with me throughout career to guide me into taking on my fear in the workplace head on. So if you ever work with me in future positions and see me talking to myself before going into an important meeting, don’t call the shrink just yet – maybe pop over and we can chant together.
What work situations have you found yourself in where you sucked it up and it worked out for the better? Do you have annoyingly cheerleader like mantra or is that just me?
Much love and till later Sez xx

My Office is Like a Graveyard! – And Other Working Girl Sagas

Credit: Vee-o

Credit: Vee-o

You’ve left university with your shiny new diploma and an unnecessary amount of photos of you smiling wearing that dorky tassel hat. You put your nose to the grind and interviewed like a total pro and scored your very first job.

The weekend before your first day you’re excited but nervous, happy but also kinda wanting to throw up. You spent hours shopping for and picking out the perfect outfit and buy a new handbag. You select the tupperware for all the delicious homemade lunches you are going to make (and silently do a little squeal that you are now the type of person that buys tupperware) and you wake up bright and early on Monday ready to take working life head on.
You head to your office expecting something from Devil Wear’s Prada, and instead you find something out of the Forty Year Old Virgin. And now you definitely feel like throwing up. 
Don’t worry sisters I have been there – my first office was awful. It was out in the sticks and nowhere near a decent coffee shop. There were no windows. It was open plan with cubicle walls so high you couldn’t see any of your fellow colleagues or even send smoke signals for when the claustrophobia got too much. There was a big sales team who were on the phone constantly so talking was discouraged, and the death stare was sent straight in your direction if you even thought about taking a walk around the block to stretch your legs or leaving 5 minutes early after working through lunch. 
The short version: it sucked. But after being there for over a year I came up with some ingenious tips to get through the day long enough that I didn’t want to kill myself in my ugly blue cubicle. And not be found for hours and hours because nobody could see in. 
1.. Personalise.
Photos, drawings, magazine cutouts, Japanese calligraphy – all are great ways to attempt to personalise your space. Not allowed to put things up? First of all poor you, you have our sympathies and second of all, invest in a digital photo frame and whack that on your desk. You’ll thank me later. I also have a lucky bamboo which adds greenery and luck and is so hardy it is almost impossible to kill.
2. Music.
Can’t stand deathly silence where the only company is the creepy breathing from the old guy in the cubicle next to you? Get some headphones and use them – I recommend using one of the digital radio channels or if there is a block on them (again poor you) use your phone/ipod.
3. Make a statement. 
For Christmas a couple of years ago, my sister bought my a Piggy Vacuum. Oh yes it is exactly what it sounds like, a small vacuum shaped like a pig with a little on/off switch under his belly. Did it come in handy to clean up for the times I had to scoff my morning muffin at my desk? Yes! Did it start A LOT of conversations with fellow employees and important bigwigs I was trying to impress? Sure did! Choose something in line with your personality and use your space to make a statement. Although a little tip, don’t try fairy lights unless you want your desk to look like Santa’s cave. You only make that mistake once. 
Combine all of these tips with a handful of inspirational quotes (or I prefer hilarious someecards completely inappropriate for the office) and you will be leaping out of bed to get to work quicker than you can say The Block.
Much love and till later
Sez xx