“I just graduated in May.” They’re the last words you want to hear upon learning your new business quarters consists of sharing an office; especially when you consider yourself a well-respected mid-level professional years out of college. I thought “Is this what I’ve been reduced to?” Bumping heads with the clueless but quirky college grad eager to dive head first into the business world with no idea of how to do it wasn’t exactly in my life plan. But somehow, it was the situation I fell into and had no choice but to deal with. Much to my surprise I learned more than the newest flavor of beers and the latest dance craze to break out at frat parties. I learned a few life lessons as well. Here are six facts of life I managed to stumble upon while maintaining my sanity in office space shared with the recent grad.
1. Have a support system
I never knew how awesome it was to have a support system within the office. Whenever I was unsure of something, facing computer issues, etc. there was no need to bother the higher-ups. She was right there to offer some help if needed. And the same applied to her. We had each others back whether we were running late, made a slight mistake or just plain confused. It made the work environment so much more pleasurable and less stressful. It turns out having a support system in all facets of life including the professional world is much needed but much less appreciated by most.
2. Live a little
While sitting opposite of this young and fiery person, I had the pleasure of vicariously living through her. I heard stories of musings with homeless people, parties during homecoming and alumni weekend, and spontaneous but whimsical dates with her equally young and entertaining boyfriend. While I sat there in awe of every intriguing detail of her care free life I couldn’t help but feel a bit jealous that I couldn’t live a life as exciting and spontaneous as hers. After all, I was no longer a “recent” college graduate. I was a young woman well into the business world trying to make a name for herself. Then I realized she was in the process of building her name as well. Why should she be able to have a life while I slaved away for the sake of making a living and carrying myself as a professional? There was no reason why I couldn’t continue to live a life worth getting excited about while maintaining a professional edge. After all, I was still young and living in the moment is what life is all about.
3. Worry only about yourself
In an economy such as this you always hear about all the competition out there, how your career isn’t secure and a million people want your job. Well, sharing an office with a young and vibrant recent grad made me well aware of that job insecurity and competition. I was in awe of her quick mindedness and ability to teach herself tasks in a matter of minutes. And of course, sharing an office with her made my shortcomings even more apparent. It was like I was in high school all over again vying for the coveted seat at the popular table with all the cool girls who batted their eyelashes at the football players better than me. Then I remembered those girls in high school didn’t care and that bright eyed recent grad sitting across the desk didn’t care about me either. As long as I completed my work in a timely manner and exceeded expectation there was no problem. Competition will always be there, but the only competition that mattered at the moment was the one within myself. I could only be better than I was yesterday. There was no reason for me to try to beat out her.
4. Dress the part of you
I admit it. I was a little too afraid to be myself in fear of not fitting in to the cookie cutter mold of the professional world. So instead I was overly nervous about my big afro-like hair taking over the work space and toned down my personality when picking out my wardrobe. But every morning when I saw my carefree office mate roll into work with her funky, artsy but office appropriate work attire I realized I was worried for nothing. Sure I couldn’t roll out of bed and head out in my pajamas anymore like the college days. But I still had the option to be me, and let me personality shine whether it be through my wardrobe, hairstyle or demeanor. As long as it was office appropriate I was in the clear.
5. Have a little sense of entitlement
For some reason, when leaving college, those young grads have this idea that the world is owed to them because they’re equipped with a new and freshly embossed degree. Never mind the other millions of people who also have a degree and more experience. A shiny new office space, with an amazing salary and two months paid vacation should just be handed to them because they’re equipped with newfound knowledge from an accredited institution. *You may roll your eyes here* It seems as though they forget about working their way up and gaining experience. As annoying as this way of thinking is, (when being around it all the time it does get annoying) that sense of entitlement isn’t always a bad thing. You may be young. You may be less experienced, but that doesn’t mean you can forget about your worth. This poor economy has scared many people into settling for less. However, I had the pleasure of re-learning from my less-experienced office mate that the job climate does not take away from your knowledge and accomplishments. It does not diminish your value. Nor does it mean you hide all that makes you awesome. If anything, she reaffirmed the need to continue have big goals and an even bigger will to succeed and get what you deserve. Make your credentials known and expect to be recognized for it.