DEAR HARRIETTE: I recently gained full-time employment, but I am a little nervous because I have not worked in an office space in three years. I need some help getting familiar with going back into the working environment again. Can you offer some advice on how I can make it an easy transition? -- Going Back to Work, Brooklyn, New York
DEAR GOING BACK TO WORK: Congratulations on securing full-time employment. That is a huge accomplishment, especially in this fragile economy. I encourage you to start by focusing on the role you have been hired to fulfill. What exactly are your job responsibilities? List them so that you can focus on them when you get to work. In preparation for your job, get your wardrobe ready. Make sure that you have the basics that you need to look professional based on your work environment.
Next, know that nothing is easy. So that should not be your desire. Instead, choose the desire to be good at what you do and to be personable with others. You do not need to make friends right away. Just be mindful of those around you. Be friendly. Listen so that you can learn. Instead of talking about yourself and the three years that you were looking for work, ask them questions. People love to talk about themselves, so that can prove to be a good distraction. When you do talk about yourself, talk about your previous employment, your hopes and dreams and your intentions for this job.
Give yourself a break. Over time, you will build natural relationships that will make it easier for you to feel comfortable. Meanwhile, do your job as effectively as you can. That is your calling card!