Devon’s First Day of Work – What is Your Story? ( #postgradlife #jobhunt #firstjob #graduation2015 )

Handsome man in business attire

Devon was so excited to have a job offer come through. Best email ever received!   All the work he had put into college was finally paying off. He will have enough money to buy more than a burrito at Chipotle, books and beer money.   He was eligible for a car loan without a cosigner, and could pick up his first new car next week. Aahh – it will be nice to have a “real” grownup apartment away from campus too! Once he gave his verbal to the recruiter before Spring break, he thought he could cruise for a while and enjoy springtime on campus.

Last week, more emails began to roll in from his new employer. Every time he opened them, he felt apprehensive.  His parents had helped him to fill out that monster form for the FAFSA, but this seemed worse. The company sent documents weekly and expected a response right away. He felt like he was agreeing to terms at the new company that he didn’t understand, and wondered how it would affect him later.

Devon’s story may sound very familiar to you. It certainly reflected my story. I remember sitting down with a HR representative who gave me a pen and said “sign here”!  The only explanation provided was either “you have no choice” (code of conduct policy), or, “this one will be good for you” (enrolling into a 401K plan).

At some point we all start out in an entry-level position and meet new people and are handed new assignments. The first time you start a “real” job is the most unsettling.   Your career may begin working in an office, a laboratory, or a shop floor.  Perhaps you accepted a position as  a sales representative, or an account manager, or working in a retail environment.   There is common ground.  We need to communicate well.  We have to work in teams. We are expected to perform.  We have profit and loss responsibilities for business, or may even be given the responsibility for someone’s life.  The consequences of improper action could be serious.   What if I do the wrong thing, and will I even know?

Graduates are trained with skills in an area of study, but understanding company work rules and the complexities of coworker relationships will be new.  In my experience with interns and new hires, here are some common questions I encounter:

From Devon:

  • When can I have a day off of work?
  • Am I allowed to talk to employees outside of my department?
  • What is my assignment and when is it due?

From the hiring manager:

  • Why doesn’t Devon respond to emails?
  • How much time do I need to spend with him the first week?
  • What work shall I give him to get started, without overwhelming him?

Likely, everyone will be a little nervous.  Many companies have new-hire training programs.   However, no one can really predict or train on how department relationships and work assignments will be managed – each situation is unique.  My advice to the new hire –  be friendly, ask questions regarding what is expected of you, get busy right away, and listen closely.

I invite you to join the LinkedIn Group called First Job After College, and share your experiences regarding funny “First Day” stories, or ask questions about what to expect on your first day, and receive advice from experienced workers.

About Joyce Jarek: Joyce Jarek Mihalik is a business leader in the real estate industry, creator of HlpSum1® Inc., and author of First Job: A Personal Career Guide for Graduates.  She enjoys mentoring her own team, and coaching new graduates who are entering the workforce and starting their first real job after college. To purchase First Job, visit About Joyce Jarek: Joyce Jarek Mihalik is a business leader in the real estate industry, creator of HlpSum1® Inc., and author of First Job: A Personal Career Guide for Graduates.  She enjoys mentoring her own team, and coaching new graduates who are entering the workforce and starting their first real job after college. To purchase First Job, visit

#Graduation2015 – What’s next for #Career and #Worklife


Over the last few months, many college grads have been posting about final exams and graduation celebrations on Instagram and Twitter, and I have celebrated along with you! I recognize mixed feelings across the country   Some of you are relieved, others are thankful and mostly everyone is excited about the future although they realize that they face uncertainty.   Now the work years are looming ahead. It is a daunting thought after seeing parents and grandparents work for a lifespan, often not retiring until 40 to 50 years later. The workplace can be a difficult place to navigate and many of you will start with limited experience.  I’ve created tips and  tools about how to approach the workplace, get to know coworkers and control your personal performance. This blog prepares you for the workforce. I also suggest picking up my book on Amazon called First Job: A Personal Career Guide for Graduates and begin now to absorb this easy read.  In the meantime,  here are three pieces of advice that I can give you today after you receive that diploma.

ONE – Don’t crash into your workplace reality with a feeling of doom.  Student loan payments, monotony and boredom are the largest frustrations I see for college graduates.  Like a postgraduate degree, your first job is another 2 to 3 year growth experience. It is not the rest of your life.  This is still a tremendous opportunity to grow and learn, test your ability to perform and evaluate if your major was a good fit after all.

TWO – Get some financial advice. I suggest adopting a frugal mentality your first year.  Building up some savings and paying down debt will have more impact on your financial health 20 years from now than you realize. Take pride in what you can save and how you could conservatively approach expenses like cars, eating out and apartment furnishings.

THREE – Although you will miss your old friends at college, take this opportunity to seek out new friendships.   Relationships built early will lead to these colleagues endorsing and supporting you in any work situation. Your work friends become allies and as your career progresses, you will need this support network to survive changes in the economy and changes in management.

I congratulate you for all of your accomplishments!  Keep in touch with this blog and let us know what your are experiencing.

Best Regards,

Joyce Jarek

Can I Shop on #CyberMonday during #Worklife ? Advice about #jobs & #IT policies

computer screen image

With Thanksgiving and Black Friday behind us, most of us will be picking up coffee on the way into work Monday morning with five days of work in front of us.   However, the Monday after Thanksgiving can also have a “holiday-feel” as retailers hype up Cyber Monday – supposedly THE DAY to shop online.  If you are tempted to browse in between meetings, have you considered whether it is OK to shop online at work?

Every workplace has different norms and policies.  What is your company’s IT policy?  Using company hardware or the web  interface for personal use is often strictly prohibited, or at best, it can only be used for a limited time during the day.  Most companies will have the capability to monitor every email, every website visited, and all documents created and stored on your computer.  One time I called the help desk and the service representative asked me if I owned a Harley (which I do). He had tracked the websites I visited where I was looking for new shocks for the bike. Cyber attacks are on the rise and the company has every right to protect their equipment, their information and intellectual property.  Company security is everyone’s responsibility – not just the IT department, and your mobile device, tablet or laptop may become a gateway for hackers.

In addition to the cyber security issues, we need to be mindful of keeping up our productivity as the holiday season kicks off.  What do you need to accomplish before the work year ends?  Most work place activity slows down to a crawl during the last two weeks of December, so this is your time to kick it in high gear and wrap up some projects.

I suggest making your Cyber Monday wish list tonight, and hitting the GO button when you get home.  The good news about Cyber Monday is that it lasts until 11:59 p.m.  I wish you a great start to the holidays, and if you decide to shop online on Cyber Monday, here is a quick link to get you started!



#Career Thanksgiving Therapy for #postgradlife & #cubiclelife dwellers


Having Black Friday off without having to take a personal day is one of the many things in corporate life that I am grateful for. Please “Like” this post and raise your thumb if you need a four day weekend – RIGHT NOW!

First Job book Jacket in red and green

Get ready, Launch, Gain Momentum, Pull Ahead

In my book First Job: A Personal Career Guide for Graduates, I dedicated a section on keeping fresh at work.  In the self-help world, many will refer to this as work-life balance.  Many of us with competing priorities are frantically trying to live up to this standard and believing that it must be possible since so many refer to it.

Truth exposed – there rarely is harmonized balance between work life and personal life.  At any given point, work will win, family will win, or you will win!  And something will lose.  Thanksgiving weekend is when work loses.  The six million people that will board planes, trains and automobiles today are fleeing quickly, while “work”  awaits Monday in darkness, cold and stillness.  Don’t you feel better already with that imagery in mind?  Relax – you aren’t getting any farther behind and no one is  getting ahead of you this weekend since everyone is gone!

You can’t do everything well all at once.  This weekend is Thanksgiving Therapy for you and your family, but work or school must be prioritized next week.  You will need  to think about wrapping up year-end goals and hit it hard for the next two weeks before holiday joy sets in again.  Your personal life may lose for awhile.  Work isn’t a coast to the year end finish line – there will be a slight up hill climb to December 31, so give it a little thought today as you depart – commit to the sprint over the next two weeks before you begin to coast.

Here are some ways to make work lose this holiday weekend.

Wednesday – quiet catch up with your closest family members whom you haven’t seen for awhile.  Take someone aside for a coffee or a beer, be sincere, be loving, be real about what you are dealing with and anxious to learn about them.

Thursday – on this meat-filled holiday, absorb yourself into family and friends, and veg out on the couch.  After cooking and cleaning up – try doing nothing.

Friday – SHOP!   Give in to the madness!  But buy at least one thing that will center you as you sprint the next two weeks.  Some new tunes, a new coffee mug, a tablet?  Work is still losing – but there is just a hint of focus coming on.

Saturday – plan today something fun and different for Saturday.  What is the one thing you will talk about Monday over the cubicle wall when your coworker asks the ritualistic Monday Question – “What did you do this weekend?”

Sunday – Safe travels everyone, get home early, get quiet, get ready.

I wish you a blessed and safe holiday weekend and for the workforce who doesn’t receive time off because you are needed to make the world hum and buzz – I am thankful for you!

Joyce Jarek is the author of First Job: A Personal Career Guide for Graduates.  Pick up a copy as an early holiday gift for you through the link