First Job and Office Politics : Learn the Game

I’m 22. I just graduated from university and took a leap from student life into professional life. It took me almost a month to figure out what I wanted to do with my life from here on out. Although I graduated with a decent GPA in a respected program with over a year of professional experience, I’m still pretty lost. With some decent amount of effort I was able to land two permanent jobs, hectic, I know. But you really can’t do anything if you are driven by an ambition. At this point when I was under the impression that I have ‘the purpose of life’ figured out, the reality of professional life found me unguarded. And in more casual terms ‘Shit Just Got Real’, multiply the idea of college politics, backbiting, leg-pulling by two fold and include an egoistic boss, that’s what I am up against.

When I look back on my university year I can’t help but feel like there were things I could have done differently, skills that I could have learned, instead of being a cynic a little optimism would have helped, instead of good grades, could have worked on my ‘people’ skills, so I compiled this (very subjective) list on how to tackle first impressions and office politics.

Disclaimer: This list is based solely on the personal experience of someone who is at home and on the internet at 1 am on a Wednesday. I’m also not wearing any pants.

As Plato wrote in 380 B.C., “The beginning is the most important part of the work.” It’s a truth that still stands today: How you begin a new job sets the tone for how the rest of your work days will go. If you make the right impression, you can achieve faster, stress less, and gain a general sense of respect from your brand new peers.

  1. Be Prepared.
    Get ready to give a 30-second explainer of who you are and where you were before, as many new colleagues will likely ask about your previous place of employment, Taylor says. Be prepared to also describe what you’ll be doing in this new position, since there may be people who have a vague understanding of your role or simply want to strike up a conversation.
  1. Pick your side smartly.
    Two of the more important factors in succeeding at a job are to not only get along with your coworkers, but also to associate with the right ones. In any sizeable work environment you will find cliques, and some mesh better with management than others. If you want to eventually move up in the ranks with your new employer, you’ll need to associate with the right crowd.

    It’s also essential that you begin to determine the office politics on day one. Power is an interesting, quite important, and sometimes elusive thing in the work environment. Certainly it is vital to understand the articulated positional hierarchy in your organization — who answers to who. This should be as easy as reading your coworker’s titles. However, because power can manifest in so many different ways, it is imperative to understand who actually answers to who.

  1. Don’t try too hard.
    The urge to impress can take you off-track, so remember that you’re already hired — you don’t have to wow your new colleagues. And I know it’s every new employee’s dream to hear that people noted how brilliant and personable they are, or how they seem to “get” the company so quickly. But that can be a lot of wasted energy; you’ll impress naturally — and more so once you understand the ropes.
  1. Don’t avoid playing Politics.
    Especially if you care about being successful.
    If you’re not good at playing politics, you’ll find yourself frustrated and angry because of how ineffective you are. Your good ideas don’t get listened to. Your good plans don’t get taken seriously. Your good intentions and hard work ethic never seem to get the attention they deserve.

    So instead of being pushed around, here are a few ideas that can help you pump up your game:

  1. It’s a job, in reality you don’t owe anyone anything, they actually owe you for the work you do for them, so when you see a problem, point the finger as long as you’re honest even if you’re at the receiving end.

  2. If somebody else does something wrong and gets away with it, doesn’t mean you will too. Don’t satisfy yourself with such arguments.

  3. If those around you don’t know what you’re doing, that means you’re not doing anything at all. Market your work.

  4. A little bit of respect and humility goes a long way. Be courteous and make sure everybody owes you.

  5. If things are not going as you wanted, you aren’t successful, you aren’t productive, don’t take your frustration out on your peers.

  6. Even the smallest of things, argument, confusion, mistrust can become a huge obstacle. Solve them.

  7. Get people to see things your way with personal conversations. Less meetings, more one to one communication.

  8. How you say what you need to say is more important than what you actually say.

  9. Similarly what is understood of you is more important than what you intended.

  1. Master the game
    The truth about playing politics is that you don’t hate the game itself. You just don’t like it when the game is played poorly. You don’t like being lied to. You don’t like being talked down to. You don’t like not knowing where you stand.

    So don’t be that person who does that to others around you. Get better at playing the game.

First Job and Office Politics

And you might end up in a similar situation : The Expert (Short Comedy Sketch)

And if you’re still in college and this article made no sense you might wanna read 8 Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me Before I Started University


8 Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me Before I Started University

I’m 20. I am about to graduate from university in two month and I’m in that awkward phase of life where I’m trying to figure out my next steps. Though I will graduate with a decent GPA in a respected program that includes one year of work experience, I’m still pretty lost. When I look back on my 3.5 university years I can’t help but feel like there were things I could have done differently, so I compiled this (very subjective) list.

Disclaimer: This list is based solely on the personal experience of someone who is at home and on the internet at 1 am on a Tuesday. I’m also not wearing any pants.

1. Don’t put grades first

This one is tricky. Yes, grades are important. Especially if you want to get into grad school/ med school/ law school etc. But you should never sacrifice opportunities to boost your CV or professional networks in order to maintain a perfect GPA. I passed on plenty of extra-curricular gigs because I felt like I couldn’t handle the responsibility and gets A’s at the same time. Now that I am about to graduate, no one gives two shits what my GPA is. They want to see volunteer work, internships, club memberships, research assistant positions, university magazine contributions. Not to mention, networking opportunities abound in university in ways they never do in the real world. Being in university is like being a member of this exclusive club full of really smart people who are all doing very cool things. Use your time on campus wisely. If there’s a professor whose work you really admire, ask him or her to sit down for an informational interview and have them tell you about their career path. You can even ask them if she could use help in any way. Don’t be afraid to reach out to professors, they are real people and though they are super busy they are usually open to mentoring promising and hard-working students. Trust me, getting an A is not enough to make a professor remember you come grad school application time when you’re scrambling for reference letters.

To sum up: in uni I divided my time between studying and procrastinating and now that I am about to graduate I’m the laziest person I know off. What you do outside of class matters. A lot.

2. Be weird

Makra Trip - Khawaja Ali Arshad
University is hella weird you guys. There are prayer circles and protests and people smoking weed everywhere and guys doing their shinanigans in the middle of the day and people hugging trees. It is awesome. Don’t get stuck in the school mentality of trying to fit in and look cool. Get weird. It’s the biggest cliche in the world but TRY NEW THINGS. Attend meetings and seminars and join, join, join. I missed NASCON(a local university event) in my last year because I thought it would be lame. I left the campus right away because I thought staying in late would be a waste of time. I didn’t try out for any sports because I didn’t play sports in high school and didn’t want to get laughed at. Basically I missed out for fear of embarrassing myself without realizing that university is this amazing bubble where everyone is embarrassing themselves all the time and it’s not only okay it’s actually the coolest thing ever. University is a petri dish, so experiment.

3. Don’t be a bitch to the people in your class.

It’s OK to not get along with people and decide to just avoid them whenever possible. It is not OK to screw yourself over by alienating the people who will be in your field when you leave the semi-protective bubble that is college. That person you decided was going to be your arch nemesis could have a lead on a job you might be good for, but since you were terrible to them all the way through college, you’re not getting the call. Keep your life simpler by just avoiding people you don’t like and be polite (notice I didn’t say nice…) and you’ll save yourself grief later on. I cannot emphasize this one enough. You will have enough weird, awkward, gross, hilarious, devastating, goosebumpy moments in university to write the next coming-of-age-Lena-Dunham-esque-so-cringe-it-hurts novel ten times over. It will be called “Queefing and Laughing” and you will make millions. But you will also be really high like 75% of the time so you have got to write this shit down.

4. Go to the gym

No, seriously. When you graduate and you’re paying for rent and electricity and groceries and internet and cable and your cellphone and petrol and your diet no longer consists of ramen and cigarettes and your metabolism screeches to a grinding halt you will look back at those days when you had access to a exercise facility the likes of which you definitely can’t afford anymore and you will kick yourself for not taking advantage. University is the time to make mistakes and be an idiot, but it’s also a great time to start forming good habits. I don’t even want to do the maths on that. Take care of your mental health: Tertiary education is rife with mental illness; depression, anxiety, panic attacks, poor sustenance. Think about it, you’re (likely) living out of home for the first time, you might be learning to cook for the first time. If you’re living in the dorms/residency sleep can be difficult to come by. The hostel is probably a mess, you’re stressed, you might be working. You’re basically learning to juggle everything all at once and that can take a real toll on your mental health. Keep an eye on it, remember to find and build a trustworthy support network and ask for advice when necessary. Do not neglect your mental health. It is just as important, as well as linked, to your physical health.

5. Talk to everyone

Universities are often huge and intimidating. Your first time in a 60 person lecture theater can be a really nausea-inducing experience, especially if you suffer from any kind of social anxiety/ low self-esteem (and like really, this is wordpress so, you do). The idea of just walking up to some stranger and making conversation may make you queasy but just do it. Don’t dismiss that really obnoxious chic in the front row who asks a million zillion questions. Find her after class and have coffee. Don’t ignore that quiet guy in the back who always spends 1/2 an hour after class asking the professor for further explanation. Those people are dedicated and in a few years when you’re trolling Linkedin in your pyjamas and it’s been so long since you got a response to a job application that you’re actually starting to contemplate whether or not there exists a wormhole in the ceiling above your computer that is sucking in your CV and cover letters and sending them to a 4th dimension where no jobs exist, you might stumble across that guy’s profile and he might just be working somewhere pretty rad and he might just remember you when you email him and you just might get an in. This sounds far-fetched but trust, sending your CVs out into the void with no response for months on end is a soul crushing experiment in growing up and you will be milking your contacts for all they’re worth. The bigger your network, the less awful job hunting is. And university is the best networking opportunity there is. So go on, say hi.

6. People will treat you the way that you allow them to

Don’t let people walk all over you. There will always be those that will if they get the chance. This includes lecturers – don’t be rude but do stand up for yourself, there are few more empowering feelings than being your own best friend.

7. Never sacrifice yourself

Always ensure that when you’re saying ‘yes’ to someone, you are not saying ‘no’ to yourself. Keep moving. Physically. Emotionally. Philosophically. It’s not time to slow down yet.

8. Travel

1. Cliff Diving – Khanpur Dam

Cliff Diving - Khawaja Ali Arshad

2. Eagle’s Nest – Hunza Valley – Final Year Trip

Final Year Trip - FAST NUCES Islamabad

3. Lahore University of Management and Sciences Sports Festival 2012

Lums Fixture - Khawaja ALi Arshad

4. Makra Peak – Hike

Makra Peak Top - Khawaja Ali Arshad

5. Muskhpuri Top – Hike

Mushkpuri Top - Hike -Khawaja ALi Arshad

6.MalamJabba Skiing Resort 2015

MalamJabba Skiing Resort - Khawaja Ali Arshad


How to bounce back from a failed intern-ship?

I am currently doing bachelors from  a top university ( FAST ). After nailing many rounds of interviews, I had secured an amazing internship this summer 2014. I cannot reveal the details of my internship but it’s just that after struggling for a lot of time, I was unable to get good results.

Hard as it is to admit my mistakes, I went through a slight emotional roller coaster as I reflect.

I had to tell myself ‘know that you’re not alone’. Many people have failed internships, including people who I may look up to or are later extremely successful. Most people don’t walk around talking about their failures though, so I likely won’t hear these stories.

Since I’d like to rejoin the company later on, I asked myself a couple of question to clear my head, I hope they help you too in some point in time:

  • Did I fit into the company culture? If not, why? Is this something I can resolve without changing who I am?
  • Why do I want to work here? Is it the company vision, people, or something else?
  • What would I do differently next time?
  • Were my technical skills up to par with what was expected in the company? If not, why? How can I improve those skills?
  • How can I balance working and socializing at work (or getting to know my coworkers)?

Word of Advice:

When you apply to the company again, the recruiter will likely bring up your internship and try to gauge how you’ve grown and matured since the experience. Be ready to show how you’ve grown in technical and interpersonal skills.

Remember to add this internship to your resume like any other work experience. Don’t skimp on your project(s) or technologies touched when talking to future recruiters; your experience here is as important as any other internship.

Finally, End your internship on a professional note. Thank the people who helped you, were part of your team, and an integral part of your internship experience. Be humble and grateful for the experience. Don’t burn any bridges; you never know where you or your coworkers may end up in the future.

Go forth and hold your head up high!