Reflecting On 2018: 10 Insights into Full-Time Work from an Ontario Recent Grad & Tips for Companies Hiring

As of January 2018, I had never spent 40 hours per week in one location ever. I thought it was going to be hard to show up at the same place day after day and be useful in one role. That’s because like many of new graduates I had always considered myself a student first, working for grades and only the occasional part time job. I looked at full-time work as unsatisfying, unmotivating, and just a means to and end. Safe to say some of my pre-employment opinions have changed.

Full-time hours are not like school. Rather than having a scheduled timetable you do day-to-day tasks that help push the department or company objectives. Depending on the size of the organization you may feel like your role is of great importance or that you are just a number.  A large responsibility of every organization is to create an environment for their staff that encourages a sense of belonging – especially now, in 2019 and certainly for the future. Times are changing, employers must adapt to what the new generation is demanding otherwise they’ll miss out on the best talent.

Obviously, responsibilities are different across every role, industry, company, department, etc. but unlike school you are expected to do your best every time. At work you cannot justify cutting corners simply because something is only worth 2% of a final grade. Every task will reflect on your abilities, knowledge of the work, drive, and over time the success in your career. Nothing goes unnoticed in the work world, and someone is always watching.  

Career – a word that could have so many meanings. Have you thought about your career? Is a career different than a job? How does education factor into your desired career and does it really matter? I’m not here to answer these questions today but here’s a summary of some insights based on my first year working full-time

10. Your time is not yours

Even though you think that you’ll only be there for 8-9 hours and there’s plenty of time left in the day, your “personal time” is limited. Preparing for work, getting adequate sleep, meal prepping, and commuting take time away from your day

9. What do I really know about my co-workers?

The office is a mixed bag of people – depending on where you work you may end up meeting individuals whom you’d never think to even talk to before.  It’s not like class where you’ll be placed with new peers next semester. Take the time and be friendly to everyone and you’ll be surprised who you meet.

8. Online frenemies

Corporate email writing style is a learning curve – experience may vary but always double check what you’re sending, the relevance to the subject matter, and who it’s going to before you press send. Make sure your correct attachments are loaded and try not to send an email in haste or anger. After a relationship is weakened it gets harder and harder to re-build. You’ll end up avoiding them altogether (like i sometimes do now).

7. “Don’t you get tired of eating the same thing?”

Meal Prepping is a way of life – to stay organized I’ve found than meal prepping every Sunday works for me. I rarely buy lunches and have started to enjoy creating various meals that are enjoyable and healthy. If you tend to get bored of the same meal, cook in smaller portions and create 2 or 3 different variations. Meal prep blog post coming 2019.

6. Connection takes effort

Get to know management – It may seem intimidating at first, but they want you to succeed. Spend some time taking to the leaders in your department, office, and your direct supervisors. If you can relate on a personal level, the work part may not seem so disconnecting. Stand out if there is an opportunity to, they will remember you if you try.

5. Look alive it’s the 9-5

They day is long – 40 Hours is a lot especially when you don’t have a lot of work or just finished a project. Staring at the clock will drain you. So, if you can and time will allow it, complete your tasks at a reasonable speed. Unless otherwise stated, nothing is always urgent, and excellence takes time.

4. “Have you heard?”

Office gossip and politics are real – You’ve seen it portrayed on TV and in movies but if you listen closely and connect with others in the office there are many versions of reality at play, even at work. Try not to feed into it or get caught spreading it – maintain a positive character in the workplace is important because, I repeat, someone is always watching.

3. This hurts in a motivating type of way

You may get spoken to in a way that you’re not 100% comfortable with – Everyone makes mistakes and that’s expected especially as new graduates. Bosses know it’s your first full-time position and that you’re bound to have some error while you’re learning. Never take disrespect but one thing to remind yourself is that you are these to show how you succeed. If something makes you feel bummed out for a couple of hours, just bounce it off your back, treat is as an opportunity to show more success now, and promise yourself to do better next time.

2. Demonstrate Attention to Detail

A common theme in all my posts is maintaining strong focus on your goals this requires attention to details. Your bosses are not always right – At times you may wonder how they even got their jobs. Everyone makes mistakes and that includes supervisors too. Don’t be afraid to help them realize their errors and use it as an opportunity to show your purpose and understanding. If it goes unnoticed it may lead to a bigger mistake down the line and you just saved them. Your only loyalty is to yourself.

1. Evaluate on your own scale

Look ahead and think about what’s on the horizon – This is something that we are fortunate to have coming out of school. Evaluations are present in our lives and we use them to navigate our personal guides.

Students are thinking about planning for the next semester, or the following year. Many full-time workers do not because they leave evaluations up to our employers and get comfortable in where they are and stop looking ahead find themselves stuck in the same place for years. Always search for the next opportunity or role you want and put active steps in place to achieve it.

Provide constructive feedback on your own valued criteria. A new Ubran Guide on creating your own person and professional goals analysis chart coming soon.

Thanks for reading this Urban Guide

Let’s Talk Mental Health

Fit things into your day that genuinely make you happy. The key here is to make a conscious effort to sub out 10-30 minutes of your day and give yourself downtime and reflection.

Today we’re talking mental health (because you can’t be productive with a foggy mindset). And also it’s #BellLetsTalk day – a great initiative to end the stigma around mental health.

Keep reading for advice on how-to find time for yourself, tips on mindfulness, and the steps to create your very own self-care survival kit.

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Finding your own time

We are all busy. No matter the situation it seems like we don’t have enough minutes in the day to do everything that we want, and this is a source of stress for many. If you are like me, you forget to take time out of your day to reflect, relax, and just breathe. But I’m here to tell you it’s not that hard.

First, I suggest fitting things into your day that genuinely make you happy. The key here is to make a conscious effort to sub out 10-30 minutes of your day and give yourself downtime and reflection. If you like meditation, sit quietly. If you like watching cat videos, go for it! Just do it in a place that makes you feel comfortable and secure.

Another way to find your own time is to listen to music.  Just plug in and escape. In the security of your headphones no one can hurt you. Blast your favorite track and let the rhythm take you over, bilamos Enrique Iglesias joke. 

Mindfulness

What is mindfulness you ask? Yourmentalhealth.ie suggests that mindfulness is simply paying attention to whatever is happening in the present moment and experiencing it without judgement and, if possible, with kindness.

2018 definition: staying woke.

When I practice being mindful, I find myself constantly looking inward at myself, and trying to position my place in the world. I understand what I can offer others, and how my current state fits into a bigger picture.

Now, I am not saying this is the #1 best way to take control of your mental health, but it’s a damn good start. Practicing mindfulness helps bring you into the present, and each moment as you’re living it. It helps you to truly focus on what’s happening right at that moment and it’s a great tool to have on your ‘adult-ing journey’.

“Sometimes, life will kick you around, but sooner or later, you realize you’re not just a survivor. You’re a warrior, and you’re stronger than anything life throws your way.”- Brooke Davis

Self-Care Survival Kit

You prepare for physical emergencies with a first-aid kit, why not prepare for emotional emergencies too! A self-care kit is very easy to make. It allows you to prepare yourself and have tools available in a time of crisis or when you’re feeling overwhelmed. My kit may not look exactly like yours but here are some ideas for your self-care kit:

  • Adult Coloring Books and Colored Pencils – very trendy and an alternative to meditation
  • Bubble bath and Epsom Salts – relax naturally in a soothing bath
  • Scented Candles – relieve stress through smell, or simply watch the flickering flame
  • Mints – help with nausea or anxiety
  • Affirmations – read some of your favorite encouragements
  • Stress Ball – keep your hands busy
  • Handwritten Note from a Loved One – to remind you that you are not alone

Thanks for Reading this Urban Guide. I am not a mental-health professional. If you need to speak with someone call the Mental Health Hotline at 1-866-531-2600.   

The 3 things every intern should know – Somewhere between school and work is a unique opportunity to be a “working-student.”

Use the opportunity as a chance to reflect on how you’ve grown and the skills you’ve learned. While it’s fresh in your mind, update your resume and practice speaking out loud about your learning for future interviews.

Thanks for reading. Enjoy this Urban Guide.

Internships and co-op experiences allow students and/or recent grads to gain work experience in industries that interest them. So keep reading to find out the 3 things every intern should know. 

I recently started my position as a business technical analyst intern in the corporate office of a non-profit organization. Now, this is not my first rodeo in a ‘trial employment’ situation. Back when I was interested in pursuing a career in broadcast journalism I worked closely with a local producer at Rogers TV and found that working with adults that were already established is a great learning experience for any student. The following are great ways to make the most out of any internship: 

1. Guide your experience with learning goals 

Entering the position a normal student may feel a mixture of excitement, nervousness, and well, confusion about what it is they will be asked to do. This is why you should start your internship with 3 or 4 learning goals that can better structure how you approach the position. Goals do not have to be permanent – they can be modified each week or month to better guide and organize your work.

Share the learning goals with your supervisor and make it a priority to communicate why you are there (because after all, you may or may not be getting paid here). Using outcomes that are meaningful that can be used to develop your resume/portfolio are just as good as a salary. 

Some examples of learning goals:

  • Enrich my knowledge of broadcast journalism by participating in live and taped productions.
  • Develop my professional network by stepping out of my comfort zone and introducing myself to 6 new people.
  • Enhance my design skills by creating a poster for the new business campaign.

2. Take Initiative 

Want to be a memorable intern? Standing out amongst the other co-op students by focusing on how you can excel at tasks that are within your capabilities is a great way to do that. (It may sound harsh but it’s what a leader would do).

Given that you are new to the organization wont know everything. However initiative can be as simple as finishing work efficiently, before deadlines, and/or volunteering to take additional work. 

Speaking up and asking questions to upper management.

Introverts: We live in a communicating world. Just take a deep breath, prepare your thoughts, and speak. 9 times out of 10 the person will be more focused on answering your question/statement than how it was asked/said.

Working with the learning goals you set for yourself can be used as a way to show initiative. Ask for feedback about your performance and align the constructive criticism with those goals, modify if necessary.

Just get involved! 

3. Leave on a positive note 

It is important to remember that this internship may or may not be paid. Nonetheless, considering the references and letter of recommendations you may receive can be extremely helpful in securing your next ‘real’ position.

Many jobs nowadays ask for 3 to 5 years of experience which is ridiculous because how do they expect us students to manage working that much while we’re in school. A benefit that internships have is they allow your ‘working-student’ experiences to count as relevant work experience.

So again, focus on building a positive relationship by putting your best foot forward and leaving the position on a positive note , it can make all the difference further down your chosen path.

Conclusion 

Use the opportunity as a chance to reflect on how you’ve grown and the skills you’ve learned. While it’s fresh in your mind, update your resume and practice speaking out loud about your learning. Most likely it will come up in a future interview so practice practice practice!

Consider situational interview questions such as:

“Tell me a time where your displayed initiative?”

“Describe a challenge you overcame, and how you did that?”

“How do you work in a team? Provide an example of a time you worked collaboratively.” 

The Expert in anything was once a Beginner. – Unknown

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Money Talks – Read some money saving tips for living on a budget

Having online money management tools allows anyone to track everything from credit cards, to bank accounts, to investments, all in one place.

Saving money can be a tough topic. This post will offer some tips to get in control of your personal finances and live on a budget.  I don’t know about you but when I was a child my parents told me to save my money, but it was always hard to see the value of money until I was older.

Living on a budget

More working class people, students, and families must live on a budget. This means setting realistic goals for spending and saving. Here are some tips to live on a budget.

Prioritize Your Life

Simply go through the areas in your life and consider what you are spending your money on. You are not alone, many Canadians spend large amounts of money in areas that are not a priority. Whether it’s a nice home, good food, or the latest and greatest technology, you just have to decide what really matters to you and what you can live without.  With this tool, we want to balance the cost of comfort items with necessary expenses in a sustainable way.

Find and Use Budgeting Tools

I am a very visual person so if I don’t see the total cost of my habits, I will assume it is not that bad. This is why I personally use a monthly budget planner on Microsoft Excel. They provide a good template to plug all expenses in and track spending habits.

The power of budgeting tools can help you too! There are many great programs and apps to help with finances (even ones that link to your bank account). Having online money management tools allows anyone to track everything from credit cards, to bank accounts, to investments, all in one place.

Eat at Home

Canadians spend so much money on dining and fast food every year. It is a multi-billion dollar industry and banks entice you by offering points on restaurant purchases. Eating out often costs more than cooking at home.

Although that grocery store routine can get tedious, and buying ingredients seems like a waste of time – it pays to do so. Coupons and in store sales can help offset the cost and preparing a meal is such a rewarding feeling.  However, simply throwing your hard earned dollars on cheap (and might I add unhealthy) food will set you back on your journey to financial freedom.

Finance can be fun

I have had the somewhat pleasure of working for a bank for the last two years. Although I may not be an expert I can definitely tell you that the benefits of building a savings far outweigh the cost of living frugally.

Beware of budget burnout. Whether you’re used to having large amounts of disposable income, or you are familiar with the “struggle”, the kind of fatigue that over whelms us about money  can strike at anyone who is trying to be more conscientious about limiting unnecessary purchases. I suggest picking up some easy finance books if you’re just beginning. Authors on the topic make it fun to save in a manner anyone can understand.

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Thanks for reading! Stay tuned for more Urban Guides.

Cover Photo from Unsplash by: Vitaly