8 things I wish I’d known before starting my first office job

And yet, no one told me.

We know firsthand it’s pretty hard to get your foot into the door of the fashion industry, so we love helping you out where we can. We’ve just launched FJ Careers, a new destination where you can browse job and internship opportunities in the Australian fashion industry and help grow your career.

Whether you’re straight out of uni or finally getting that ‘real’ job after years and years of interning/questioning your life choices as a recent grad, starting your first office job can be kind of nerve-racking.

While from the outset a cushy 9 to 5 office job might seem like a breeze (no more double shifts? Hello life outside of work!) there’s also a particular set of skills you might want to get a handle on before you step foot into your new corporate cubicle. Here’s a few to keep an eye out for. 

1. Get a monitor

When I first started working at a desk, I was hunched over a laptop for about eight hours a day, which in turn resulted in some seriously tight shoulders. What I didn’t realise is that by constantly looking down at my computer (and consequently hunching over) my neck and back felt more like a slice of week-old pizza i.e. hard as shit. So do yourself a favour and invest in a separate monitor or computer stand with a mouse and keyboard. That way you’ll be forcing yourself to look straight ahead instead of down. Your giraffe neck will be no more. 

2. Dress for success

If you’re not a corporate gal, dressing corporate can be pretty rough. Itchy, semi-opaque stockings, orthopaedic-looking heels, pencil skirts so tight they could choke a noodle – ugh. But it’s a lot easier than it seems, you’ve just got to be smart about it. (Pssst: we’ve compiled a (non-corporate) girl’s guide to corporate wear to help you out.) 

3. Arm yourself with snacks

Getting used to that 9 to 5 lifestyle can be a little rough, especially if you’ve spent the past few months rolling out of bed at noon and lazing around all day (guilty!). Until you get used to your new schedule, those first few weeks will be exhausting, to say the least. To combat this, try keeping some energy snacks close by, just in case those 3pm cravings kick in. Opt for protein over sugar too, so things like nuts, dried fruit, healthy snack bars and dark chocolate for the roughest days. 

4. Position yourself as the team’s tech wizard

Everyone loves someone who knows things about computers, and because of your age and social status as a ‘Millennial,’ your tech knowledge is something the older gen desperately needs (even if they won’t actively ask for it). Be careful though, you never want to seem like a know-it-all or step on anyone’s toes, so just be attentive, and if you know how to fix their tech query, jump on it. This could mean fitting out a colleague’s computer with a new app, or even just getting a PowerPoint presentation working. You can count on them to be grateful, even if they do say their thanks with an offhanded “youth these days” comment. 

5. Make friends (it’s easier than you think)

Never underestimate the benefit of having a few work buddies to chat to in the break room, whether that be for venting, gossiping or even just shooting the shit about your weekend. It always makes things easier when settling into a new role if you’ve got a few allies on your side. 

6. Know your rights

If you’re an intern this is very important. In some work places, interns aren’t covered by general workplace rights so it’s important to figure out straight away where you stand. Exploitation and bullying can happen anywhere, so it’s important to be vigilant. 

And if you’re actually getting paid, make sure everything is above board. It’s going to be pretty damn nice to receive your first real paycheque, but pause the mini dance break for a second and really look at what’s going into your account. Have they stipulated the right superannuation? Are you getting paid for overtime? Have they started taking out HECS? All very valid questions you should be keeping in mind when that first payslip comes around. 

7. Take your entire lunch break

If you’re allocated an hour lunch break, take it. If you’re skimping out and only taking a 20 in an effort to seem more #committed to the job, don’t even bother. Chances are your boss isn’t even paying attention, and you’re legally entitled to that hour, so use it as an opportunity to get up and stretch your legs. If you’ve brought your own lunch (in which case, good on you!) take it over to the break room or even just another corner of the office. It’s really important you take a step back from your desk, walk around, and look at something other than the impending workload in front of you. Trust me, it helps with your sanity. 

8. Nail your first day

Speak up, don’t be afraid to ask for help, figure out how your boss likes to communicate and be loyal. Lookie here: we’ve already compiled a killer guide to making a great impression on your first day

Good luck budding office workers, I’ll see you on the front line.  

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