Real Life 101

Our last group of trainees reported for work this morning.  During the introductions, I had a major realization.  I have been in my field for longer than they’ve been alive.  That was a real kick in the ass for me.

It wouldn’t have been so bad if they were high school graduates, or even undergrads…but these are business school graduates.  That means they are in their late twenties to early thirties.  I have been in banking for 33 years.  I can do that math.  I remember very clearly what it felt like to be the one in those seats…nervous and fidgeting, excited and anxious, ready to get going because I knew everything there was to know, and yet…scared shitless and so grateful to be where I was.  They think they know it all right now too.  It won’t take long for them to find out that they don’t.

So while it was a real kick to the ego to realize that I could, in fact, be the mother of everyone in the room (young mother – I started my career at 18 after all), I knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that there was no way on God’s green earth that I would trade places with any of them.  No freaking way on no freaking day.

But I started thinking about what I wish someone had told me when I was young, obnoxious and just starting out in my career and I came up with the following courses…

  • Effective Communication Skills
    • Let someone else speak and stop thinking about what you’re going to say before they’ve even finished their thoughts. 
    • Listen. 
    • Think. 
    • Then speak. 
  • How to Manage the Real World
    • The real world doesn’t care that you went to an Ivy League school or what your GPA was.  You may have gotten the job because of it – bravo – but once hired, all the real world cares about what you’re going to do for them today
    • Shut up about what was and concentrate on what is.
  • The Importance of Work/Life Balance (Note:  How to Manage the Real World is a required prerequisite of this course)
    • Live in the NOW.  You will get promoted, you will move forward, but only if you can truly make the best of the moment you are in right now.
    • Concentrate on making a good life for yourself outside of work.  You’ll need it on those days when it looks like the world is falling down around your ears.  There’s something to be said for a nice home, good friends, and maybe a family one day.  THEY are what matters.
  • Human Resource Code of Conduct
    • The only salary you need to be concerned with is yours. 
    • If you are fairly compensated for the job you are doing then be happy. 
    • If you are not, ask for a raise and outline, clearly and succinctly, why you deserve one.  Show how you add value to the organization, not just take up space.
    • If you are overcompensated for the job you are doing, ask for more work and show how you add value to the organization.  One day, someone will notice that you are paid more than you’re worth – make sure you can show them your worth.
  • Keeping Work in Perspective
    • Don’t postpone personal decisions because of your job.  If you want to get married, have a baby, go to graduate school, whatever…do it!  There will always be a job and, truth be told, once you have a child your “career” will become just a job so work to live a full life, not the other way around.
    • Take a vacation.  You need to recharge, relax and release.  Working through vacations and holidays doesn’t make you an overachiever, it makes you a chump.  Don’t be a chump.
    • Don’t move just to be closer to work.  As soon as you do, you will be transferred.  Find a place you want to live and then live there.  In the city for the nightlife, in the burbs for the schools, in the mountains for the fishing…etc.  The commute will be worth it if you’re happy. 
  • Financial Success after College 
    • Live within your means.  Save.  Invest wisely.  Leave the credit cards alone.  You are never too young for a 401K.  When I got laid off it was all we had to live on.  Although I’m paying dearly to the IRS – at least we kept the house.
  • Health and Human Life
    • Stay fit but don’t obsess.  Your body will eventually begin to break down.  Everything ages and changes.  Stay healthy and embrace the changes.  Enjoy your life.

And finally, and most importantly, don’t wait until you’re 51 and in recovery for alcoholism to figure all of this out.  Just sayin’


~Vikas Narula

2 thoughts on “Real Life 101

  1. Thoughtful post. My daughter has such a better handle on balance (at 34) than I did at 50. That really is so important. Back in the day, a women had to “hide” the fact she had a family, at least in my career.

    Personal choices in your early working life make the difference in quality of life when you get older. The jobs come and go, but the family is for a lifetime.

So...what do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s