A Universal Guide For Office Rookies, From an Ex Rookie

On my first day at my first job, I was stark a contrast to my otherwise confident and aggressive self. I wished for someone kind enough to appear and sit me down through this whole rookie business. That never happened. But as they say there’s nothing quite like learning on the job! I no longer qualify to be a rookie but I know what it feels like to be one, so I hope this helps all the other rookies out there.

Dress smart

Fortunately, I didn’t really have to grow out of my college wardrobe. My job didn’t need me to be “dressed like I mean business”, so I could survive without bothering much about my attire. However I did notice a change (and a good one at that), in the way people perceived me the day I upgraded my wardrobe. You need not necessarily follow the latest fashion trends, but rather wear what keeps you comfortable and confident. It’s also important to smell nice, I particularly remember avoiding conversation with a certain someone, because the person smelled terrible. So maintain good levels of hygiene and try to smell as nice as possible. You don’t want people to not interact with you simply because you don’t smell nice.


I don’t smile a lot. If I could get a penny for every time someone asked me if I’m okay at the office, I’d be really rich by now. Smiles are infectious and it’s a fact backed by science that smiles can make you happier. So greet people with smiles whenever you can. But again, try not to overdo it. Balance is the key.

Relationship with colleagues

Someone once told me that the relationship that you have with your colleagues should be like the drop of water on a lotus leaf, where you represent the drop of water and your colleague is the lotus leaf. If the leaf bends, you don’t cling to it, but fall down effortlessly into the pool of water. Have friendly relationships, but it’s advisable to stay within one’s limits. Your colleagues are after all your competitors, so it’s advisable to not get too personal.


Avoid delays. In case you can’t finish a task on time, make sure you have a valid enough excuse. If you don’t things might not turn out to be quite okay on your performance review.

Talk to people

I regret not engaging myself more in conversation with experienced people in the organizations that I worked in. A lot of them might not mentor you, some might even try to pull you down or misguide you, but don’t let stop you from engaging in conversation. And as you listen, learn to filter the pearls of wisdom from the garbage. Being an island doesn’t help much.

Expect problems and eat them for breakfast

Don’t worry too much, a lot of “experienced” people often don’t know what they’re doing! If you think that something is wrong, bring it to your superior’s notice and give solutions instead of complaining, this is something that always worked for me. If they don’t seem to care (often they won’t), and if it’s hindering your productivity, live through the storm, it’ll pass and you’ll emerge stronger. 🙂 Another senior colleague once told me that you should leave an organization only when you’ve given something of value, this is how we grow. Alternatively, keep your options open and don’t stop giving job interviews-it’s a fun and smart way to keep yourself with adept with the latest skills and trends of your profession.

Be good at what you do

This is as simple as it gets. Work smart and do your homework, every day. Remember that you are but a representation of your work. There will be times when you’ll get this feeling that you’ll never be good enough. It isn’t an uncommon feeling, but the ones who get ahead are the ones who didn’t quit improving themselves.

Never say never

There have been times when I was hired for a certain job, but was sometimes expected to do tasks that were not in my job description. I did it anyway, because it gave me a chance to learn something new. An added skill never hurt anybody.

Keep your feet on the ground and your head on your shoulders

To quote Luhrmann, “don’t congratulate yourself too much or berate yourself either…the race is long and in the end it’s only with yourself.” The key is to continue the doing the good work.

Stay happy

Regardless of the challenges you face, do your best to stay positive and happy. I always did this productivity check on myself whenever I felt upset about something. If I was upset because someone hurt my ego, I’d ignore it, but if I was upset because someone/something hurt my productivity I’d find ways to improve the situation through conversation. As for anything else, always “live through the storm, it will pass”. It took me a while, but I learnt to accept that it’s fair to be competitive, because everybody is here to make a living for themselves.

Easier said than done but these are a few simple steps that’ll save you time, money and heart-aches. 🙂