First Job Mistakes

In the Times, Alina Tugend has a piece on people’s first jobs straight out of college and some of the mistakes they’ve made while figuring out how to be a functional working adult:

Garry Polmateer, 35, a co-founder of Red Argyle, a company that designs custom applications, said that in his first job, he wished he had understood the importance of dressing professionally, or at least ironing out the wrinkles.

“I worked in the I.T. department for a labor union and was generally in a cave, but sometimes I’d be asked to work on a board member’s computer. I used to wear cargo pants and rumpled golf shirts,” he said. “Sure, I was a broke, postcollege student and thought spending money on clothes was ridiculous, but looking back, buying nice clothes is an investment to help get you ahead in the workplace.” Vicky Oliver, a job interview consultant and author of numerous career development books, agreed that dress codes were “hugely important. They’re a sign of respect for the place. If you’re violating them, you’re saying, ‘I don’t respect the culture.’ ”

Sometimes bosses will be upfront: “I wore a skort to work and my boss asked, ‘Where is the other half of your pants?’ ” Ms. Oliver said.

The thing that probably prepared me the most for being a functional working adult was, well, working part-time jobs in high school and college (one of which was an office job on campus) and learning by doing, though I know a few people who attended some career center sessions to get some hot tips on how to sell themselves during job interviews and what not to do or wear to work. But yes, iron your clothes!

Photo: Peapod Labs

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