When some people think of internships, apprenticeships or office junior roles they can often automatically associate them with tea making, filing and general dogsbody work around the office. This is not always the case. An office junior role can be the perfect stepping stone to a high flying career and for those straight out of school or college it is an ideal opportunity to gain experience within an office environment, learn basic skills and be paid for the privilege. OK, so the pay isn’t always great but the experience and potential opportunity for progression is priceless, especially when you consider that the vast majority of career fields have some sort of office back up, if not solely office based.
Being an office junior can be intimidating, especially if this is your first job role and your colleagues are all that bit older. Offices can be loud, bustling and sometimes stressful environments with a code of conduct of their very own. But making a good impression as an office junior can mean opening doors for the future so here are some tips to ensure you are the very best you can be in your new role as an office junior.
Ask questions…but not too many
On your first day you should be given a brief induction either by a manager or other senior member of staff. Use this opportunity to ask important questions about the company and its purpose/aims as well as details about your own job role. To be successful as an office junior you need to understand what the business is all about and how you will slot in. Don’t be afraid to ask – your first day may be daunting but it is the best time to find out this sort of basic information and will show your new employers that you are enthusiastic about their company. If you leave it a week or two then ask ‘so, what is it that we actually do here?’ you will look unprofessional and disinterested to your workmates. On the flip side, don’t overload on information on your first day. You will pick up a lot of information as you go and an influx of insignificant questions may irritate your colleagues.
Be aware of office etiquette
Like it or not there is a certain etiquette to working in an office but this isn’t as formal or frightening as it may first sound. It simply means behaving in a respectful, considerate and professional way that doesn’t upset or annoy any of your colleagues. This can range from things such as being well dressed, punctual and tidy to practicing general good manners and avoiding office gossip. When working within close proximity of others, it is generally considered bad etiquette to infringe on their senses – this means cluttering their vision with too many trinkets from home, offending their noses with strong smelling lunches/unwashed socks or being unnecessarily loud or offensive when speaking. You should also try to keep your desk tidy as an untidy workspace indicates a lack of respect and organization. Other people may also need to work from your desk so keep the cuddly toys to a minimum and take advantage of free corporate gifts (which are usually office accessories/stationery) in order to keep your workspace looking professional and well organized instead of an extension of your bedroom. As you go on you will also learn correct telephone and email etiquette but as a newbie it is wise to concentrate on office etiquette first.
Accept a ‘varied’ workload
By ‘varied’ we mean that from time to time you will have to accept some of the more menial and tiresome tasks in the office. Organizing that batch of filing or laminating brochures may seem dull but everyone has to start somewhere. If you complain too much then you may appear sulky, petulant and ungrateful for the opportunity so try and suck it up in the short term but do remember to….
Remember that you are here to learn. Sadly you may stumble across some colleagues who permanently seem to give you their most uninteresting work to carry out but you do need to feel as if you are progressing in your role and learning new things. If you feel that you are being taken advantage of then speak to a manager about it but don’t complain, just explain that you are interested in learning about some of the more intricate office practices. Ultimately you cannot expect to be given the same levels of responsibility as senior members of staff who have taken a long time to reach their positions and are certainly being paid a lot more than you. But if you are interested in learning about finances in the workplace, for example, then ask to spend a day shadowing someone in the accounts department. Not only will this give you an insight into an area of interest but it shows managers that you are able to show your initiative and speak up in order to progress.
Offices are very social environments and you will not be able to avoid interaction with your new workmates for long. On your first day it is easy to feel shy, intimidated and to try and hide away but the longer you keep this up for the harder it will eventually be to speak out. Instead say hi, introduce yourself and be polite and friendly. Even if you’re not interested in building life long friendships with these people, a sociable and relaxed vibe will enable you to feel more comfortable asking for help thus making your job much easier.