The transition into a first job isn’t easy for many and a bit of information to make the landing easier never hurts. Here are some open secrets that HR or your manage won’t share during your on-boarding.
Despite Covid-19’s best efforts, many students are edging closer to graduation and the moment where they transition from full-time student to full-time employee. It’s the move you have been working towards for your entire schooling life and on the surface of it, it’s pretty darn cool. You finally get to look forward to a monthly text from your bank telling you that your account has money in it and with that come thoughts of places to live, cars and buying all types of dope furniture. That said, transitioning into the working environment can be much trickier than one thinks. Here are some of the things no one tells you about entering the world of work:
Despite being full of adults, in many ways the working world is like high school and you are the new kid. Your colleagues have been there for a while, established relationships and have become entrenched in their ways. You may have impressed everyone in your interview with your new and clever ideas but everyone in the office is far less likely to be excited by them.
Furthermore, office workers tend to be a bit older and, therefore, more conservative than your usual university crowd which creates much more room for you to get your foot lodged in your mouth. If you want to make your transition as smooth as possible then it’s best not to rock the boat too much until you get a proper lay of the land.
In the beginning treat the office like a trip to your significant other’s house for the first time. Keep your head down, be pleasant and avoid hot button issues. It’s an unpopular thing to say but, at least in the be-ginning, suck-up as much as possible because relationships often mean more than your work. If you are well-liked people will be willing to help you settle in and you’ll probably bump into more opportunities. That isn’t to say don’t be yourself but recognise that you have to play the game. Also: be nice to the office managers, security guards and secretaries because those people have the proverbial keys to all the doors and will provide invaluable help that your colleagues may be reluctant to give.
Taxes and the cost of adulting
Nothing is quite as surprising as the day tax season rolls around and all of a sudden people start asking you for IRP5s and the like. An IRP5 is a tax certificate that you get from your employer that you’ll need when filing your taxes because, as it turns out, you are responsible for filing your own taxes and SARS has no interest in giving you leeway because you didn’t know. On top of that, you are going to have to figure out what the difference is between a pension fund and a provident fund. Medical aid is another cost that you are going to have to think about, as well as things like life insurance. Welcome to the big bad world of adulthood.
Also, this cannot be stressed enough, start saving. Even if it is just a little bit at first, get used to putting money away because life comes at you fast and now that you are an adult the burden of being able to cope will fall squarely on your shoulders. Furthermore, the earlier you start saving for retirement, the less likely you are to be the 70-year-old at the office who is still working because you cannot afford to retire.
Say goodbye to all those holidays. As a general rule, companies will give you about two to three weeks of holiday per year. That is it. You are going to have to figure out how and when to dole that out across the year, and that includes over Christmas. For the rest of that time you will have your nose to the grindstone.
You’re on your own
More often than not, your bosses will not give a sparrow’s fart about your mental health. They have their own deadlines and KPIs and you are simply a tool for them to achieve those. To that end you will be worked hard and any inability to meet your targets will be seen in a dim light, no matter how valid the reasoning. You may experience burnout, professional neglect, general anxiety and other adverse mental health effects — it is going to be up to you to take steps to deal with that. If you can afford it, visit a therapist regularly even when you feel like there is nothing wrong. If not exercise, meditate and do whatever you can to protect your peace because no one else will.
Your friendships will change
Transitioning into the working world puts an interesting twist on friendship. Some of your friends may start out having higher paying jobs than you or vice versa. That in turn will mean that your tastes and priorities will change. If you are not careful jealousies may crop up. Just remember to run your own race. Comparing your life trajectory to that of others is a super efficient way to give yourself a whole raft of mental health issues. The problem with mental health issues is that they can often create physical health issues and physical health issues cost a lot of money to fix, which causes financial stress and voila, you’re in a vicious circle. So be happy for your friends and don’t take it to heart if they are not happy for you.