Corporate tips for '08 class

The Baltimore Sun

NEW YORK -- By all accounts, the graduating Class of 2008 is a group celebrated for its technological knowledge but woefully unschooled in the customs of the corporation. So if you're a corporate newbie or a freshly minted graduate entering today's work force, how do you succeed in the brave new corporate world?

"It's important these stars-in-the-making are prepared for the profound differences between work behavior and school behavior," said Shanti Atkins, president of ELT Inc., an ethics and compliance training company.

Atkins offers these four tips to help students navigate the transition from college life to corporate America:

Technology is your best friend and worst enemy. In matters technological, your ability to communicate and network goes far beyond anything previous generations have ever seen. But the rules are different in the workplace. Everything you do on company time and company equipment can be considered work product and is subject to standards of professionalism you might not be used to.

After-hours business events can be perilous parties. If you are schmoozing on the company dime, you aren't off the clock in terms of business behavior.

Your ethics can affect nations. Think of Enron, and imagine the long chain of invisible ethical lapses that led to such a tragic corporate scandal. But as you begin to make your name in the workplace, you will be exposed to normal workplace pressures to get the job done faster, cheaper and with the highest profit. For help with navigating issues, find a mentor to act as your ethics adviser.

Learn the rules. Learn the written and unwritten rules of your workplace. Your best bet is to make a friend in the human-resources department and show your boss you are committed to learning and living by the rules of your new organization.

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