The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

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Morgan Shiver, Contributor • June 20, 2024

Career Center offers tips on how to survive your first job

A session hosted by the Hegi Family Career Development Center Tuesday evening prepared students for the transition from college to the workforce. The seminar specifically focused on how to negotiate a good benefits package and understanding employer expectations within the first few weeks.

Mandelin Meehling, assistant director of the Cox BBA Career Services, said the she had the idea for this presentation “so that you are prepared to make the right decision for you.”

Meehling gave basic tips on how to succeed at work during your first year. Having a positive and “can-do” attitude impresses the boss and makes the office more pleasant. Also make sure that you are reliable and be realistic about your position in the first year; often employees will not receive a promotion until several years later.

Meehling also advised students to learn appropriate time management while at work. Outside office hours, don’t stay up late if work starts early in the morning because employers know when you are tired.

“You are being evaluated, always,” Meehling said.

Part of this evaluation also derives from technology usage, including e-mails, personal Web sites and cell phones. Do not visit personal Web sites such as Facebook and Myspace while at work, and be careful what is posted. When using a cell phone, be aware of people around you and be professional.

Following Meehling’s presentation of general behavior, Helen Reagan, SMU Human Resources benefits manager, discussed how to select and enroll for a good benefits package.

Reagan covered medical, dental and vision plans, but stressed that the medical plan is the most important while the other two can wait if necessary.

Find a good deductible amount depending on your personal health record.

“If you are young and healthy,” Reagan said, “select a higher deductible and lower premium option.”

Furthermore, take advantage of preventive care benefits because, “you are never too young to get an annual physical.”

Reagan also suggested a flexible spending account: it reduces your taxable income by allowing you to pay for certain healthcare expenses. However, be smart about how you save this money so that you never lose the amount and can use the money to your advantage.

For the future, Reagan advised students to research dependant care so that they can support themselves and a child if they need to pay for daycare while at work. This plan is also a “use it or lose it” plan.

Lastly, every company has a retirement plan and students should start saving for retirement early because Reagan and Meehling are skeptical of social security for this generation. They advised students to learn about employee and employer contributions and the tax-free options, because loans and withdrawals carry immediate taxation and a 10 percent penalty.

“Let your assets grow,” Reagan said, “and retire when you want to.”

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