Gradvice: Major At-Work Do Nots


I’ve been in the workforce for a while now (I know this because I can no longer sleep past 8 on weekends, a sign that my body is on a real-person schedule). Long gone are the days of opting out of my responsibilities in favor of nursing a hangover and staying out late on weeknights. Instead, I am in bed by 10pm and hunched over a desk for 10 hours a day no matter how crappy I’m feeling.

Besides the paychecks I’ve been depositing for the past 3 years, I’ve taken away quite a few things from my time on the job. Namely, a few very important lessons (learned the hard way) of what is and is not acceptable in a professional environment.

You starting a new job soon? Keep these few things in mind:

1. Your boss is not your friend.
When I started working for a company owned by some family friends, I got pretty tight with the boys in charge. We’d shoot the sh*t during the day, grab drinks together after work and got really close, really fast. It was nice having friends in the office as it gave me something to look forward to every day, but no matter how many shots we took together, those boys were still my bosses and it got increasingly difficult to remember that. As time went on, it got extremely difficult to work together in a professional manner and everything eventually went to hell…. And I had to quit. It is fine to have a jovial relationship with your boss, but there is a line and you better be careful not to cross it.

2. Going to work hungover is not OK.
Happy hours are fun, but holding back the vomit while on a very important conference call is not. Be careful with the weeknight drinking. In this economy, you don’t want to give your bosses any reason to give you the boot.

3. The people in charge aren’t as dumb as they look.
My BFF got me tickets to a concert out of town on a Thursday night. I really wanted to go, so I decided I’d skip town after work and just call in sick the next morning. I woke up early, put on my best “I’ve been up all night with food poisoning” voice and left a VM at the office. Those guys saw right through it, which they let me know in a very serious one-on-one meeting on Monday morning. Lying doesn’t pay, so suck it up and take a personal day/vacation day if you’ve got something better to do.

4. They are always watching.
Thanks to the wonders of technology, the big men in charge can see what you are doing all the time, regardless if they can see your screen. Just be aware of that as you blog about how much you hate your job (guilty), spend 3 hours shopping on Zappos (guilty), or look at some questionable content online (sigh…guilty).

5. You are on their schedule, not the other way around.
It’s hard getting used to the daily grind of real life and when I first started working I tried tirelessly to fit everything into my schedule. When an after-hours work meeting meant I wouldn’t make it to my Spinning class, I kindly asked the boss if we could reschedule for the next day. Apparently, that wasn’t an appropriate question (as made evident by the desk-pounding, loud voices and advice to look for another job). You work for them, woman, no matter how inconvenient is for your life.  Don’t forget that.

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