4 Don'ts to Remember on Your First Job
By Robin Reshwan
Congratulations on landing a summer internship or a career after college. The world of work can be exciting and rewarding – but it also has its share of pitfalls. Before you get too comfortable in your new role, take a moment to review these four career limiting moves (or CLMs) to make sure you're off to a good, professional start.
1. You met him in the hallway your first week. He seems friendly and asked about your college and what you think of the company's latest product. He even remembered your name when you were in the group meeting today. You feel for sure that you have established a connection. But wait – don't send Facebook "friend" requests to your superiors. By design, many managers and executives are very talented at making you feel acknowledged and comfortable. Their skilled engagement does not mean that they are truly your friend or are interested in your life after work. It is part of their job to make employees feel like part of the team.
Additionally, the real issue with connecting your personal to your professional life via social media is how to disconnect when things aren't going well at work or if you leave that position. Also it's highly likely that the senior employees at your work would prefer not to share their personal life with you. In short, appreciate friendliness when you find it at work, but don't mistake it for an outside of work social connection.
2. You've had a tough first couple of days. Clients are impatient. Bob in accounting smells weird and your manager has unreasonable expectations. To let off some steam, you think "I'm going to vent about this." Wait – don't tweet, post on Facebook, Instagram or outline your professional suffering in a short video on Vine. Publicly documenting how much you hate something or someone is the best way to find out how small the world truly is, because you could find out that the recipient of your frustration is one degree away from you. Whenever you document *(i.e. post, write, record, video, etc.) on any social media platform, it can be found again. Also, it can be linked back to you if one of your followers happens to be connected to the target of your frustration. A better approach is to expect work to be frustrating, dull or tedious sometimes. If it was meant to be all fun, they wouldn't need to pay you (and it wouldn't be called work.) Once you recognize that work will be annoying at times, you can choose more productive ways of blowing off steam – like calling your best friend to vent or taking a nightly run.
3. Two weeks into the job, you go home and pick up your mail to find a glorious sight – a paystub from your employer. Whether it shows a direct deposit or is a live check ready to be cashed, getting paid on your first professional job feels great. You think: "What is the best way to commemorate this special moment? I'll take a picture and post it." Pause for a couple of seconds (or more) to think about this – do not post a picture of your first (or any) paycheck, ever. First, pay is confidential. You may sit next to someone who does the same job, but you may be paid more or less than her for many reasons. She may have a higher degree, more prior internships, more time at the company or she could be related to the vice president of sales. You just don't know – but rest assured that your company has a policy against sharing compensation information. This policy may have been written in your offer or employee handbook or it may have been verbally shared. Regardless of the method, almost every company wants to keep its pay rates confidential.
The second issue is that your paycheck also shows confidential information about you – your address, social security number, etc. In the rush of excitement to share your success with the world, you may forget to block out all of those details. So, in summary, never share anything related to specific pay via social media.
4. Maggie from marketing sees you on Monday and asks, "How was your weekend?" Before you know it, you have shared how you and your buddies hit five bars, drank until you passed out, woke up in Golden Gate Park and walked home with a hot girl or maybe a long-haired homeless man, finally crashing on your door step. This is a classic case of TMI becoming a CLM. Do not share too much information – when only a little will do. Most likely Maggie is being polite and expects an answer like: "I spent some time with my old college roommates. How about you?" Work is filled with trivial banter that makes the day go by. As with the first tip, remember it is a professional environment with the primary goal of benefiting the company. Niceties make things more collegial, but oversharing can make things uncomfortable quickly. Additionally, managers and colleagues cannot help but negatively judge you when you don't show restraint in what you share.
The inability to separate personal and professional can be detrimental on many levels at work. It is great to build strong bonds with your peers and managers – but remember to keep them work related. Professional connections that respect you and your judgment are better for your career today and in the future. Good luck.