When I first arrived in Toowoomba early 2006, I had to re-adjust my lifestyle to that of a full-time student without a salary and fully depend on my family for my living expenses. The pain of dependency is painfully excruciating. Everyone I knew was much younger. It really needed a shift of thinking to adapt to the new environment. I was almost ready to pack my bags & go home!
Fast forward to 2008, I have now graduated and am fully dependent on myself. This is very much different from that in Malaysia as when one is with & stays with the family, there is less worries of getting your own transport, paying for rent or even to cook for your meals (Hah!).
Although I could have gone home, but I made a choice to stay on longer here to survive on my own as a single asian female. My family initially didn't approve of my decision, but it is a choice I have to live through. It is a much tougher context than what I have experienced before. I guess that is where our human instincts & will to survive kicks over to dominate.
The rules of work are so much different from that in college. When one is paid to do work, the expectations are always higher. Even one who has only done voluntary work may not fully appreciate how much is expected of you as a staff, and the politics at play in the background if others feel that you are a threat to their "rice bowl".
I was back at Toowoomba for my graduation convo last week, and had an audience with the minister's wife. Sis. Elena is in her late 40s, and she gave me and some of my mates advice on how to handle working life in a world strife with politics, back-stabbers, and colleagues who are scheming to be promoted on the career ladder. I am blessed to have her & my other mates who in the background are constantly looking out & praying for my safety here alone in Sydney.
Sis. Elena has worked over two decades of her life in Singapore before migrating to Australia with her husband. Her breadth of experience includes the position of being an administrator, a manager, and setting up of her own company by the time her first child was born in Singapore. Elena now voluntarily uses her time to help out in a migration organisation to help others settle in. She is like the "mother" to us students where I was studying.
Her 10 rules of work for the employees in a new environment are:
1) Humbling oneself to have a learning attitude to work in a new environment.
2) Having the right work attitude. You are there to work, not socialise, so know your priorities.
3) The quality & evidence of the work will demonstrate itself. There is no need to use dirty means to get your way up because the managers can discern who & who are not capable of producing quality work. But remember to know how to "blow your horn" at the same time.
4) Do the work without complaining & murmuring. This builds character & endurance.
5) Work within your legislation & boundaries.
6) When more work comes, how do you as a staff respond? Take each work as a learning opportunity.
7) Keep yourself busy during breaks. Ie. read a book, write stuff, read policies. (This is especially relevant when you are new in the company), when other long-term staff are observing you (they will report back to the boss-). The boss will always ask them how you are getting along with (the other staff, the assignments, how hardworking you are, your initiative, etc).
8) If you are new staff, be submissive. If you know that there is still much to learn, willingly admit that you still have much to learn. There is a season to stay, and a season to leave.
9) DO NOT get involved with the centre's politics, do not talk bad about anyone, and its always wiser to not make any comments till you are long in the workplace,
10) and finally, ALWAYS BE AWARE of your body language.
Other Related Links:
-Surviving first year as a teacher.
- Transitioning from College to Work: How to survive your first job.
- Surviving your first 30 days.