Tag Archives: Office

5 Office Secrets for College Grads

You just spent four years and countless dollars on your college education in the hopes that it would prepare you for the working world. And while it may have given you the critical thinking, research, writing, and networking skills you need to succeed in your career, there are a few basic tactical maneuvers your college professors probably skipped in lecture. Here’s our cheat sheet of office skills that will make office life easier from day one.

Be Familiar with the Entire Office Suite
For the liberal arts/English majors out there, I’m sure you know Microsoft Word inside and out. And for all you finance majors, you can probably create and concatenate excel spreadsheets in your sleep. But in your new job, sooner or later you’re going to have to use one of those “other” Microsoft Office programs you’re completely unfamiliar with.

You don’t want that to happen during your first week of work, so make sure you know the entire office suite before you start your job. See if your campus career center offers sessions, or you can even check out free tutorials on Microsoft’s website.

Conquer the Fax Machine (and the Copy Machine)
Believe it or not, your worst enemy at the office isn’t the co-workers you’ll fight for that promotion; it’s your office fax, paper shredder, and copy machine. At first glance these machines may seem idiot proof, but ask anyone who’s tried to send a 21-page, double sided document to a Chinese distributor or copy, collate, and hole punch a finance presentation for a company-wide meeting, they can throw a serious wrench in your day.

The good news is that although these machines come in various sizes, shapes, colors, and brands, they all speak pretty much the same language. If you work at a place with these machines in house, ask the administrative staff if you can help with some of their projects to learn the ropes. If all else fails, head to your nearest Kinko’s and get yourself acquainted. You and the copy machine will be old friends in no time, I promise.

Know the ins and outs of Fed Ex
What applies to office machines applies to Fed Ex: sooner or later you’ll need to use it, and it can be much more complicated than it looks. My advice? Learn how to use it long before you’re shipping something really important overseas.

First, find out if and where your office houses its own Fed Ex/UPS materials and labels. Most offices have one person in charge of this department, so find that person and become their new best friend. Ask them to teach you in the ins and outs, and buy them some coffee in return.

Find Out Office Phone Protocol
What’s the first thing you do at a new job? Probably set up your voicemail, just before you set up your office email. But before you do, you need to find out your company phone protocol.

Most offices have a way they like their phones answered and their voicemail set up, specifically in regards to how you introduce yourself, what title you use, and when you mention the company name. Find out how your greetings should be presented, especially before the company CEO calls your line.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help
I know you want to impress everyone in the office, especially because you’re the new kid on the block. But sometimes not asking for help when you’re starting to sink only makes things worse. When you’re in trouble or in doubt, ask your co-workers for their opinions, advice, and expertise. I promise they’ll be more than happy to help; after all, they were once just like you.

Noel Rozny writes myPathfinder, the bi-weekly career blog for the myFootpath website. myFootpath is a resource to help you in your search for a college, degree program, career, graduate school, and non-traditional experiences. Visit myFootpath to start your college or degree program search.

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Home Office Flexible Alternatives

Having a home office, even if you do not work from home, can be an organized way of taking care of financials, keeping all paperwork in an easy to find file cabinet, and having everything you need in one place. Of course if you do work from home, then you have learned early on that defining some kind of space in your apartment or house for your office is critical to being productive. Working away from the desk though, is also an option as flexibility is key to staying motivated. Similarly, if you do not have the space to designate a home office, consider these alternatives.

If you primarily work with your laptop, you know the benefits of being able to work wherever you want. At home, you sometimes sit in front of the TV when working or doing mundane tasks that do not require much concentration. Sitting on the couch and looking down at your laptop creates stress on your neck and back. Consider a laptop tray table, which is similar to a TV tray table, but goes further as it can be adjusted on a slant or a flat tabletop surface. It can also be adjusted for height. This is a great way to improve your posture as it eliminates the slouching that you so often do without being aware of it.

When you set up a home office, you usually set everything up (such as the computer, the printer, the telephone) near each other with your desk being the primary focal point. However, if you like to alternate where in your apartment or house you work, remote capabilities are a must. A laptop with wireless internet is a start as is a cordless phone. Now you can work in the kitchen while keeping a close eye on that pasta sauce you are making for dinner. That’s multi-tasking, something we are all subject to in today’s busy way of life. Should you need to print something out that you would rather do now instead of having to connect your printer to your laptop later, you could get a wireless network printer. Working flexibly at home and multi-tasking have now never been easier and more enjoyable.

Ear pieces or bluetooth headsets are not just for driving. They are ideal for taking quick calls that will not slow you down as you are working. With a headset, you need not be afraid to answer your cell phone and can confidently continue filing or whatever other tasks you can handle without too much concentration while talking on the phone. It will also prevent you from getting a neck ache.

Having flexible work options will fuel your motivation to be creative and productive. No one can sit in the same spot all the time without boredom setting in. Plus you will feel constrained and not able to get anything else done. It is good to change it up every now and then. And if you do not have the space for a home office, then these alternatives are just what you need.

Find out where to get the solutions I talked about. Visit my blog about homegoods and housewares.

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