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Tips for Surviving Your First Year on the Job, Even if Your Boss Scares the Heck Out of You

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employee ignoring angry boss

Some people aren’t prepared for their first day of work, let alone learning how to navigate office obstacles to build a career. Between you and your three best friends, one won’t make it through the first year, and two won’t last 18 months.

Don’t be a statistic. (Click here to tweet this thought.) Learn to avoid common obstacles without stumbling on your career path by remembering this advice:

You won’t be the newbie forever

If it’s your first day, week or month at a company, expect to be tested. Don’t be surprised if most of what you’re asked to do isn’t on your job description. This is the office equivalent of an initiation.

If you survive, you’ll get to come back a second day. If that bothers you, don’t get too settled into your office space because you won’t be there long. Take consolation in the thought that you won’t be the newbie forever.

If after six months (or you can fill in the blank with your own time period), you’re still the one being sent out for coffee — especially after three new people have been promoted — you’ve got a problem. It’s time to stand up for your job and career.

Have a sit-down with the boss and explain you can’t give 100 percent to your job if you have to spend 15 percent getting pastries for meetings and replacing the copier toner.

Run from office gossip

Participating in office gossip can be a career killer. Not only is it an energy drain and rarely a positive experience, but you never know who’s an office snitch.

The next time you walk into the break room and see everyone playing with cell phones and complaining about how the boss drinks too much at office parties, go take your break elsewhere. Someone may go back to the boss with the comments, and the loudest complainer may get the job of refilling the bathroom paper towel dispensers for the remainder of their career.

Don’t spend time around whiners, either. Professional whiners are the people who complain when the company changes the brand of push pins they use because “they’re not pointy enough.”

Professional whiners have lost sight of the simple pleasures, such as the fact that they have a job. Don’t let them drag you down into their pits of despair. Bring in your own push pins if that helps you cope.

Success comes slowly; disaster happens in a nanosecond

In our high-tech world, mistakes can take on a global impact instantly. All it takes is a push of the “Reply All” tab instead of “Reply” to send out a searing barb about the boss to the entire Western US division of the company instead of your friend across the aisle. Pay attention to details.

It’s best not to tweet from work unless you work in digital marketing. Don’t risk it. You could become the next topic of conversation for the gossipers in the break room.

Fail, be imperfect, quit

Sounds like really bad advice, doesn’t it? But “failure is essential, perfection is overrated, quitting is smart.” The real factor that stunts you career growth is fear.

As you enter the workforce, you want to prove yourself and you don’t want to fail. You may limit your growth and experience by sticking to the projects and tasks you know you can do. But success comes from failure. No one is perfect, so aim for “progress,” not “perfection.” The initiative you take will stand out to the higher-ups.

Don’t be afraid to quit something. A common misconception is that quitting means you’re lazy and unreliable. If you know your project was a bad idea or you can’t work fruitfully with the team you created, don’t waste time on it because you want to see it through to the end. Accept this as a failure (that’s OK, remember?) and move on to your next idea or help someone with theirs.

Learn, grow, move forward.

Amanda Richter is a mom and avid reader from the Northwest. She runs a small business from home and enjoys writing about parenting, career advice and social media trends.

Brazen powers real-time, online events for leading organizations around the world. Our lifestyle and career blog, Brazen Life, offers fun and edgy ideas for ambitious professionals navigating the changing world of work.

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  • pocketprotectorandheels

    This is great advice! Especially the office gossip bit. It can be so tempting, but is never worth how much it can damage your career. After a couple years, my boss just gave me some other interesting tips on his way out. http://pocketprotectorandheels.blogspot.com/2014/01/advice-from-ex-boss.html