A Primer for a First Job

Photo by gemsling

I am probably going to sound like an old fuddy-duddy here, but I am absolutely floored at what I am seeing.

My current client hires many programmers straight out of school.

That’s cool. People have to start somewhere.

However, the behavior of some of these new hires has me floored. So I thought I would offer a primer on behavior at the first job. (Yes, I have seen all of these in the past three months)

  • Don’t sleep at your desk. If you need to sleep during lunch, go to your car. But don’t put your head down and do it at your desk. And most certainly don’t do it during the work day.
  • Wear appropriate clothing. Most companies have a dress code, and if you are within the letter of that code, you still have to use common sense. Wearing shorts and sandals when it is 40 degrees outside is fine if your company allows it, but don’t expect the company to turn up the heat to accommodate your complaints.
  • Wear clean clothing. Wearing the same outfit 5 days in a row is just disgusting.
  • Don’t cover bad hygiene with perfumes. Body odor plus strong aftershave is still body odor. If your coworkers can smell you three feet away, take a shower. And not in perfume.
  • Follow the standards. Suck it up and learn the system (and why it was implemented) instead of deciding you know better and will do your own thing.
  • If you break it, ‘fess up. Don’t blame someone else. We all make mistakes, and every new programmer can count on making a couple of big ones.
  • Always have a backup. To mitigate the damage above.
  • Don’t make the focus of your morning your lunch plans. It’s fine to have lunch plans. It’s not fine to start discussing them an hour after you arrive at the office and continuing that discussion for 3 hours.
  • If someone says they are busy, respect that. You are not the center of the universe. Take a number.
  • Don’t expect others to do your job for you. If you are in the position where you have to ask for help, just don’t hand over the assignment and expect it to get done. That’s not delegating, that’s laziness. You need to learn it sometime.
  • Don’t assume people with more experience are out of touch. Yes, dinosaurs exist. But the people around you have much more experience. You can learn something from everyone.
  • The women in the office are not the cleaning crew. Don’t assume the women will make the coffee, clean your desk, empty your trash, or pick up behind you. ‘Nuff said.
  • Don’t have extended personal phone calls at your desk. If you need to make a phone call, do it on your lunch hour. Your coworkers don’t want to listen to a description of the baby’s diaper rashes.
  • Don’t hum. Just because you can’t hear yourself humming doesn’t mean that those around you can’t. Low level noise is difficult to tune out.

I am sure there are more pieces of wisdom, but we’ll leave that for another article. 🙂


Photo by gemsling

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