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16 Practical Tips For Graduates Entering The Workforce

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Get ready. Thousands of bright-eyed graduates are set to enter the workforce for the first time – with their Brooks Brothers suits, canvas duffle bags or backpacks, and enviable hairlines.

To mark the annual deluge, Esquire released some advice for the newly employed, along with a list of gift ideas to “ease the transition into adulthood.” Suffice to say, it’s dreadful — written by some beta male with seemingly zero real world experience.

For the sake of these kids, I have a moral obligation to set Esquire straight. Their recommendations include:

An “elegant pen?” Sorry, but if you – some 22-yr-old kid – show up to a meeting with colleagues who have already forgotten your name and start taking notes with a Mont Blanc fountain pen, you’ll get side-eyed out of the room.

An “old school turntable to ‘dampen the frenetic energy’ of a tough day? If you want a way to unwind, it makes way more sense to get a PlayStation. It’ll also save you thousands of dollars from all the nights you choose to stay in playing Madden on a Friday night.

A versatile Timex chronograph watch? The only message that sends is that you come from a poor family, have no taste, and take yourself too seriously. If you can’t afford a decent starter watch (I wrote a guide for that), just get a funky Swatch or a Nike sports watch. This tells people you’re either whimsical or disciplined about fitness. Or just don’t wear a watch at all.

An Oxford collar button-down? Esquire says there is “no greater sartorial staple for a professional man.” Sorry, but Oxford collars have no place in the corporate world, especially with a tie – you look like a community college professor. Instead, study this definitive fashion guide for dressing like a man and you’ll be just fine.

Now that we’ve fixed that, you should also memorize these tips for getting ahead in your new job:

  1. People love to talk about themselves, so ask your new colleagues questions that get them in their comfort zone. A big part of your first impression is how you make people feel about themselves.
  2. Buy at least three decent suits. Keep it simple; if a suit has too much flair, the only thing people will notice is how often you wear it.
  3. Don’t wear a tie every day unless you have to; you just look like a kiss ass. But always keep a spare tie in your desk drawer.
  4. Come up with dismissive and condescending nicknames for adversarial colleagues you consider to be possible threats – like Chico, Fredo, or Bubba. Work at it until they are adopted office-wide.
  5. If you are exchanging “stock tips” with friends at other firms, use an app like Cyber Dust. But just don’t buy short-dated, out-of- the-money options.
  6. Show some leadership by organizing drinks and nights out with fellow trainees; get them wasted, especially in the presence of senior colleagues.
  7. Do the coffee runs. It shows confidence. Just don’t screw it up. If you can’t be trusted with coffee, how can you sell bonds or manage risk.
  8. Leave a jacket on the back of your chair so people can never be 100% sure if you’ve left early for the day or are taking a long lunch.
  9. Never tell the first offensive joke, but always have a good one saved up for when your seniors finally trust you enough to share one with you. 
  10. Ask the secretary for the travel schedules of the senior members of the team for the week ahead. She thinks you are being proactive, but now you know when you can sleep in, hit the gym, or beat the traffic to the Hamptons.
  11. It’s okay to make a mistake or ask a question. But don’t ever ask the same question or make the same mistake twice.
  12. Don’t offer to buy drinks when out with your seniors; you can’t afford them and it won’t score any points.
  13. Your boss’s jokes are always funny. Period. And if you are at the receiving end of a joke, laugh with it. If you take yourself too seriously, no one else will. There are no “safe spaces” in the real world.
  14. Shut up about where you went to college.
  15. Let your boss sent the tempo when it comes to rowdy nights out.  Don’t be afraid to join in; just make sure you’re the first one in the next morning.
  16. Don’t date a chick in the office. The “I’m busy at work” excuse is too valuable to squander. But, you should still sleep with her.

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John LeFevre is the creator of @GSElevator on Twitter, and the author of the New York Times bestseller, Straight To Hell: True Tales of Deviance, Debauchery, And Billion-Dollar Deals.

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