6 Tips for New Grads in the Corporate World (that I wish I knew last year)

New grads, do you think you’re ready for the corporate world?

Shiny black heels and silk ties with kerchiefs,
pea coats and smartphones, all polished on the surface.
Weaving through the skyscrapers and crowds of rain makers,
trying to prove your degree to be more than a piece of paper.

Let’s be honest… in today’s world, mergers and acquisitions play a large role in the life of a corporation. Thus, anyone working in the corporate world is subject to the whims of their parent organization. I can say, from first-hand experience, that being a student and then taking the corporate plunge is not the easiest thing to do.

There are changes in mindset and outlook that you have to adopt, and you really have to commit to learning.

Here are the 6 things (I wish I knew a year ago) that new grads need to keep in mind while taking that first corporate step after university.

1. Keep your mouth shut, but your eyes and ears wide open.
Chances are, your Thursday afternoon “Marketing 101″ and “Intro to Fin Econ” can only teach you so much. As you’ll hear from hundreds preceding you, you will learn more in your 4 weeks on the job than you may have in 4 years of undergrad. Learn by watching and listening.

2. Keep your “innovation” limited.
It’s not right to demonize people who are ‘stuck‘ in old ways. Maybe they’re not; maybe they consciously choose to do it that way over newer, more innovative methods because the older methods meet their needs exactly, while the newer ones do not. Learn the old methods, learn how your bosses (and your bosses’ bosses) do it and why they do it that way. Ensure your innovative methods are wholesome, encompassing all the needs of the existing method while improving efficiency, for example. Take your time. Don’t be in a rush to prove yourself. You’re in this for the long haul.

3. Keep a diary or log.
The corporate world doesn’t have time for you, and most often, neither will your boss. They are busy people, and soon you will be too. In the meantime, keep a personal record of everything notable you do on the job. It will help you and your boss see (if the need were ever to arise) how you are spending your time on the job, and how you’re making yourself worth a spot on their payroll. If you’re not worth it, believe me, there are hundreds waiting to get their foot in the door and take your place.

4. Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer.
Your competitors can be your strongest allies in the workforce. They are people you can look up to, people to learn from, people to strive to be as good as and better than. I know now that I will learn more from these frenemies related to my continued education and work than I may from a weekend BBQ spent with my best buds. Distinguish between (and appreciate) both groups of people in your life.

5. Keep an open mind.
The sooner you accept that not everything happens your way (and some things may not happen “the right way,” depending on your definition of “right”), the better off you’ll be. Your perspective, your opinions, your outlook… they are bound to change. Don’t be afraid of this change. Own it, and move forward by being open to learning.

6. Keep on keeping on.
On this challenging and exciting (and sometimes scary) new path on which you have selected to tread, there will be much turbulence. Ups and downs on the road, yes… but I’m also talking about mountains to move, forks in the road, and ditches to climb out of. Having an open mind and being open to what life has in store for you next can be the best advice anyone can give you. You should believe in (and bank on) your own abilities. No one said it would be easy, but it will be worth it. Work hard and smart. You’re the only one between you and your success. Keep on keeping on!

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