Survival 101: How to Be an Adult in the Working World

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Posted by The Editors on March 29, 2012
Those times of waking up at 1 p.m. and lounging around in your sweatpants all afternoon are sadly over. No more lazy mornings drinking beer with your eggs for breakfast because your roommate guzzled down the last of the OJ. When college ends, you will be thrust into adulthood and expected to take on certain responsibilities and up your etiquette game to well….acceptable grown-up standards.

Here’s what you need to know in order to survive the working world after college.

Wardrobe
You’re an adult. It’s time to dress like one. This means your ratty Coachella festival T-shirt that you’ve nicknamed holey and miraculously saved from numerous college couch fires should no longer see the light of day. In fact, it might be time to retire holey altogether.

Don’t wear flip-flops to work.

Dressy attire doesn’t mean jeans and a nice sweater. Buy three or four ties, some dress pants, and invest in a good suit. Whether it’s a networking event, holiday party, or business meeting, you’re always better off over-dressing than under-dressing. 

Dining Out
Keep your language and behavior in check. In college, it’s easy to fall into a pattern of using profanities in every other sentence. That’s not the way to make a good impression among your guests and fellow diners. Also, keep the drinking to a minimum. You might think your tolerance is still god-like but that’s never the case. After a glass or wine or a few beers, cut yourself off and start drinking water.

Then there’s the matter of table manners. Depending on the industry you go into, you might find yourself sitting in on fancy meals where there’s double the amount of silverware at every place setting. Not sure which fork to use? Observe what the person next to you is using and follow suit. And always put your napkin on your lap as soon as you sit down to the table.

Show Respect and Maturity
After you return from an interview or a meeting, always send a thank you note within 24 hours. This shows you care about and appreciate other people’s time. In college, it was easy to ignore the influx of emails to your inbox. With class and all the extracurriculars you were involved in, it wasn’t unusual to get back to a person in a few days instead of right away.

You can’t do this post-graduation, however. Time is money and people expect timely responses. The longer a message sits in your inbox, the faster you’ll forget about it and the faster that other person will forget about you! And when you do email someone back, make sure you spell check your email—and don’t sign off with “TTYL.”

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