As we all know, high school is a world unto itself. Its definitions of success, expectations of behavior, and tactics for achieving your goals are all quite a bit different from those of adult employment. Here are some things you should know to lessen the culture shock.
Be a self-starter.
You see this phrase a lot in help-wanted ads, but what does it mean? It means that you will no longer have parents and teachers repeatedly reminding you to get your tasks done. Your boss certainly won’t do it. It’s all on you now.
What was uncool is now cool.
In high school, it was definitely not cool to be the eager beaver who was the first one in the classroom door and stayed late to ask questions. In the working world, it’s the eager beaver who gets the pay raises and promotions.
The words “it’s not my job” should never come out of your mouth. As the rookie on the team, you’re expected to do anything and everything that’s asked of you — and do it with a smile. (Anyway, the work experience you think is off-message now might get you a better job later.)
Playing hooky has a higher price.
In high school, tardiness and absences were excused with a note from your parent or doctor. At work, your time is the company’s money, so they’ll be taking offense, not excuses. Plus, if you’re on the clock your paycheck will be a lot smaller.
Your boss is your customer.
You are the product that you want your employer to buy. He’s got the money, so he gets to choose what he wants. If he doesn’t like your performance or attitude, he’ll give the money to someone who does it better.
Education never ends.
Highly successful people say they never stop learning. If there are gaps in your skillset for the job you want, investigate apprenticeships, on-the-job training, and trade school courses. If you dream of becoming a leader in your field, you will need to stay current throughout your career by attending seminars, workshops, and other industry events.
Welcome to the world you’ll be living in for the next 50 years or so until you retire. The rules are different, but if you play them right, the rewards can be wonderful. Good luck!