Your First Job Post-College: Surviving the Summer
by Alison Ringo
With Memorial Day Weekend upon us, summer vacation season is here. There is good empirical evidence that increased flex hours during the summer (such as summer Fridays, or flexible work hours for parents with kids on summer break) actually make employees more focused and productive.
But don’t go thinking you, as a recent graduate in your first post-college job, should let your hair down all day every day from Memorial Day to Labor Day. As the new face in the office, you’ve got a lot to prove. There are ways to stand out and things you must consider as relates to your first non-vacation summer.
Offer to Stay – In some offices with summer Fridays, especially small ones, the policy is for at least one person to stick around until normal close-of-business hours. Most businesses alternate this role on a weekly basis, and you can boost your work ethic credibility by offering to take someone else’s Friday, or even by offering to be first in the rotation.
Think of it this way: an extra four or five hours is not going to make or break your whole summer, but it is going to win you good marks with your boss, and probably your colleagues.
Use Your Downtime – In many businesses, summer is the slow season (what with everyone leaving early on Friday and all). This works out well in terms of training new hires, but you can make it work even more to your advantage. That extra summer Friday office duty you’re covering? Instead of playing around on Facebook from one to five, use that time to get ahead in your training manual, practice the new software you’re expected to learn, or summarize (for your manager or just for yourself) what you feel you’ve learned about the company or the industry in the preceding week.
Watch Your Wardrobe – This pointer is unrelated to the previous two, but it’s just as important. The summer is a tricky time for office wear, especially if you’re still getting a handle on what’s acceptable in your office. Depending on the building your company works from, the people on your floor may have no control over the AC situation.
So do yourself a favor and ask HR, before you run into any concerns, what’s appropriate. If your blazer ends up too warm for an early summer thermostat, is it all right to wear the knit tank you have on underneath? For guys, are shorts acceptable, or should you stick with pants? It may sound silly, but it’s basic questions like these that can help you avoid getting an unprofessional rep during your first months.
Summer is a great time to start at a new job. People generally feel more laid back, so your welcome might be easier. It’s also likely you won’t be the only new face around. Just remember that you’ve still got to prove right from the get-go that you’re a hard-working, professionally presentable new college grad… even if you’d rather be having class outside again.