7 Tips for Your First Job

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Starting your first job definitely brings with it a lot of excitement but also can be a nerve wracking experience at the same time. Everyone only has one “first” and so we all start with having “never done this before”. But the smallest of things can often be the difference between being that star new analyst or a nervous disaster. From my own experience, as well as having seen and mentored others through this process, here are some tips that might help make that first job a memorable learning experience.

  1. Everyone was once in your shoes – While it can be overwhelming to interact with your manager and other senior colleagues at your first job, remember that they’ve all been there. Simply knowing this fact and reminding yourself of it often brings you back from being in awe of someone and humanizes them a bit more and makes that interaction much easier. So that CEO or Business Head who is at your Welcome Orientation wasn’t born at that position, she too was once in your shoes.
  2. No question is a dumb question – I cannot stress enough the importance of asking questions. I would rather have a junior who asks questions if they have a doubt, rather than “assume” and make mistakes. Your first few years are probably when you will get away with asking the most basic things as you’re clearly new to the job and no one is judging you for not knowing things. Trust me, if you think a question is dumb now, it will be dumber when you’re no longer as new to the job.
  3. Take notes – preferably in writing – A good follow up to asking questions is ensuring you take note of the answer and don’t repeat it unless absolutely warranted. The same goes with mistakes – while it is OK and often necessary to make your own mistakes, be smart enough to learn from them and not repeat them. While some of us do just well with taking a mental note, most of us don’t have the photographic memory of Mike Ross or the eidetic memory of Sheldon Cooper.
  4. Focus on the small things – It is very unlikely that in your first couple of years at a job, you will be assigned to handle the most critical of projects all by yourself. But this does not mean there aren’t enough opportunities to shine. The most important part of your first few years at a job is doing the small things right. Proof-read that email, double check the formulae in that excel-sheet, go over your work three times if you have to, but avoid making mistakes that can be attributed to oversight or carelessness. Attention to detail and being absolutely thorough in what seem to be menial tasks is what defines you and is your stepping stone to bigger responsibilities. As is often said, your job can often be to make your boss look good, and you do that best by taking care of the small things.
  5. Time is the most valuable commodity – When you are bombarded with a long list of tasks from everyone on your team, because you’re the junior-most person around, getting everything done and doing it right can be challenging. Manage your time well and prioritize. Learn to create a list of things to do at the start of the day, prioritize what’s important and cross-check this list at the end of the day to ensure you didn’t forget anything. It is easy to work long hours in your initial years, but hard work is not always about long hours but also about efficiency and time management. Finding a balance between work and life outside of work is important to not burn out too early.
  6. Say Yes to every opportunity but know it is OK to say No – While some of the tasks assigned to you in your first job may feel like “this is not my job”, they can often be extremely valuable to your learning curve and often also provide networking opportunities as you work with more people. But what is equally important is to learn that you don’t ALWAYS have to say Yes and you are well within your rights to politely decline something if necessary. This may be because you have too much on your plate, you don’t feel you’re adequately qualified to handle a task, or another valid reason, as long as you say No with a rational explanation.
  7. Learn from the people around you – While I am not a fan of advocating “networking” for the sake of networking, the best part about working in an organization or in a team is the people you work with. Most workplaces will have incredibly smart people around you with different backgrounds, expertise , experiences and perspectives. Make sure you keep an open mind and absorb all the good qualities and work ethic that you can from your colleagues. Most people that are happy with their jobs don’t necessarily love the work that they do as much as they like the people that they work with.

Beyond these basics, just be you and enjoy that first job, because there won’t be another! Remember you were hired for the job for a reason, and so all you need to aim for is bringing the best version of yourself to work everyday, and constantly work on adapting and upgrading your skills.

How to write your first poem?

Let me give you a beginner’s lesson,
on writing your very first poem.
While it may seem like a daunting task,
there must be some simple way to start, you may ask.

And so I’ll tell you the secret to do it in a way that’s quite easy,
without letting it sound too childish or sleazy.
Let us begin first with picking a topic of your choice,
don’t stress too hard, just listen to your inner voice.

Then start putting all your thoughts down on a paper,
don’t worry if it doesn’t feel Shakespearean or the substance starts to taper.
There are poems that rhyme, and others that don’t,
so try to rhyme it simply like mine, or forget about it, if you won’t.

Big words, small words, no matter what you use,
stay true to the theme that you decided to choose.
And take your reader through a bit of a journey that they will remember,
whether it is a joyful ride or a lyrical expression of feelings more somber.

Then read it again and refine it until you see those words flow,
as if each of them were strokes on the broader painting you’re trying to show.
You may be a natural or the effort may suck your mind dry,
but you’ll never find out unless you at least give it a try!

P.S. For a more formal guide on writing poetry, there are many tutorials / articles out there and you should surely go through these before you take your first step at being the Shakespeare or Wordsworth of your generation and find yourself on this list!

Runners’ Corner: Getting Started

Note: I don’t claim to be a seasoned runner, but do have a bit of experience from starting from scratch to having run about six half marathons (PB of ~1h54m), three 100k walkathons (PB of ~22 hrs), and many 10k runs in addition to a crazy duathlon in the Himalayas in Nepal.

The first and likely the biggest hurdle for anyone looking to get into running is the initial inertia of taking that first step. Whether you’re looking to do this for a new hobby, fitness, building your social connections, giving yourself a new challenge, weight loss, or just because it is a cool thing to do, running is a great thing! I’ll admit it may not feel like the most exciting thing to push yourself into a state of constant panting, sweating and sore muscles, but if you do it right – running can be a lot of fun, and quite easy. After all running is one of the most natural things that the human body is quite designed to do. Here are a few simple steps from my own experience:

1) The First Step – When I started of giving “running” a shot, the first time i stepped on a treadmill, I was able to go only about 400 mts at a stretch at a pace of about 10 km / hr before I had to stop to catch my breath or rest my tiring legs. That sounds awful, but you’d be amazed to see how quickly our body develops if you follow a good routine – more on that later. So as a first step, just convince yourself to get onto a treadmill at the gym, or better still go for a jog outdoors and see what your base level stamina is. Take as many breaks as your body demands, but try to go a distance of at least 1-2 km mixing a jog / slow run with walk breaks.

2) Meet DOMS – If you are an absolute beginner to any form of workout, it is highly likely that the next morning when you wake up, you will have sore muscles in your legs and potentially your back – this is what is referred to as Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness or DOMS. Probably THE MOST important thing in building a routine is not letting this stop you. Continue to go for a similar short run + walk routine everyday for atleast the first 5-7 days, and you will notice that the pain and soreness goes away by Day 3-4. But the key is perseverance.

3) Congratulations! You now have a basic routine – Once you’ve battled your way through the first few days, you will settle into a routine and figure out what works best for you, and in many cases by your 2nd week, you may be running a whole kilometre or more at a stretch – practically more than doubling your stamina in such little time.

4) Find a Motivation – The next challenge is to find a good enough motivation to push you to expand your body’s boundaries and build on your start. One of the best ways to do this is – sign up for your first 10k run. For me, a bit of a competitive spirit and a “goal” has always been a huge driver and so I signed up for a 10k run that was a bit further out, anywhere from 3 months to 6 months depending on what you think works best for you. You can find a whole host of runs of different lengths online in various runners calendars. P.S. you may have to wait longer for one in the current COVID-19 scenario – but a watch / phone app and a date set for yourself is always an alternative.

5) Get to the 5k mark – The next milestone you should be gunning for is being able to run 5 km at a stretch, at a pace that works for you – it could be anything from 8km/hr to 12km/hr, and if you can run 5km at a pace faster than that, you probably don’t need to be reading this! As hard as it sounds moving from 400m stamina to 5km stamina, this shouldn’t take more than 3-5 months of a regular routine.

6) Go get that First Finisher’s Medal! – So I went straight from being able to run a 5k at a stretch, and never having tried a longer distance, to my first 10k. For anyone who plans to get half-serious about running, 10k is not a very daunting distance. And so, if your body is ready for a 5k without serious damage, you’re probably going to be fine in a 10k. And remember, we aren’t going after a podium position, but the finisher’s medal – and yes, most good well-organized running events have medals for every finisher which is one of the best things about running (at least for me)! The excitement and feeling of running with hundreds and thousands of others, that immediate incentive of overtaking the next person in front of you and the adrenaline rush from being in your first competitive run will usually be enough to get you over the line, of course in addition to the hard work and practice you’ve put in over the past few months. Don’t worry too much about the clock, hopefully this is only a first of many more to come (my first 10K took me about 1 hr and 15 mins and at my peak of consistency in running, I could do a 10k in about 52 mins)!

7) Other VERY Important Points – It would be very remiss of me to not mention some other very critical things to keep in mind as you embark on your journey of running. Warming up your muscles before every run with light stretches and cooling down with some stretches after is key to avoiding injuries and having a sustainable routine. Mixing up strength exercises for your whole body especially your back, glutes, calves, and other muscle groups is really important as well. While the casual runner doesn’t need a very strict diet, good and balanced nutrition as well as staying hydrated will go a long way in building your stamina. There is a ton of great reading available on the internet if you want more pro tips on each of these. And most importantly, don’t forget to ENJOY running even though it may not feel like the most enjoyable activity at the start because once a runner, forever a runner!

How do I write my first post?

Well, I just created this blog and kept wondering what my first post should be and the Blogging University advises me to just get going without being too self-critical and do a “crappy first draft” if it may end up being that.

I should probably start with the motivation behind this blog and there probably isn’t one big “Why”, but a combination of many “Why Nots”. So, basically I thought Why Not…

  1. start a new hobby – With the painfully long amount of time the current pandemic stricken world has allowed all of us to spend with our own selves, why not use this time to start a new hobby?
  2. rekindle the love for writing – Throughout my childhood growing up, as well as as a college kid about 10 yrs ago, I dabbled my hand at writing blog posts which sit in a blog that shall not be named and I’ve always been convinced I’ll one day write a book and sell enough copies (read millions) to retire on the money, so while that sounds like a distant dream, why not start small?
  3. build a memoir for myself – And when I am telling the world my journey after I am a successful writer (see #2), surely a blog will help me write a memoir and serve as inputs into the greatest autobiography of all time, so why not make a start towards that now?
  4. find out if people really care? – Haven’t we all had a feeling that the world is missing out on all these incredibly profound thoughts we have, these incredibly funny jokes we make that make our loved ones laugh, these amazing life hacks we just figured? And so why not put it all out there and see if there is an audience?
  5. make a little side income? – This isn’t surely the least of all but it makes sound less greedy if I optically place it last, but after spending my free time reading a ton of articles on how to make money online or on how to retire at 40, why not explore if uncle Google can actually help you take a penny from the billions it makes via ads?

And so, as I start this new blogging journey, we’ll see how long this lasts and I am going to use this short 5 point list as a checklist for what I set to achieve and where I ended up.