About to start a new career (budget / finc. analyst) in an office setting. Advice?

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Lemur
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About to start a new career (budget / finc. analyst) in an office setting. Advice?

Post by Lemur » Tue Jan 03, 2017 12:39 am

To cap off the end of 2016, I gained employment with a small private company that works with federal contractors in Washington DC. For the most part I was given the job based on my degree in finance, military experience, and I think I did pretty well in the interview.

I was offered a salary of $55,000 with benefits. This salary doubles my previous salary. I have also never had a 401(k) with matching contributions so this is new to me (I plan to max this out of course). In the military, I worked construction. It was fairly easy. Work hard, listen to your boss, do what you're told, etc..

I created this thread to ask about general advice on working on an office setting. This is something I have never done. I don't start this job until the end of January so I'm wondering about so many things...

- How do I make a good first impression?
- How many different suits should I have keeping frugality in mind (any recommendations?)
- What could I study now to refresh on (budget analyst / financial analyst / etc.)
- I would describe my personality as INFJ. Not a question just a statement to give you a small idea of the type of person I am.

I am very new to this career. I do not have any certifications. Just a Bachelor's Degree and I'm currently working on my Master's in Financial Management. I'm also studying Python on the side (not sure how this relates just yet but something I became interest in).

Scott 2
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Re: About to start a new career (budget / finc. analyst) in an office setting. Advice?

Post by Scott 2 » Tue Jan 03, 2017 12:46 am

Be liked, easy to work with, competent. In that order.

So if the group wants to do it wrong, happily agree and discover it doesn't work with them, instead of insisting they do it right.

thrifty++
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Re: About to start a new career (budget / finc. analyst) in an office setting. Advice?

Post by thrifty++ » Tue Jan 03, 2017 5:37 am

Lemur wrote: - How many different suits should I have keeping frugality in mind (any recommendations?)
Just buy one suit to start with but with two pants to go with the suit. Buy a neutral colour like charcoal or dark blue. Buy a high quality one so it looks good and endures. Not a cheap one. Go somewhere decent to buy it where there will be someone there, a tailor, to help you pick the perfect fit. Then just adjust your look with different shirts and ties. No one will notice you only have one suit. Seriously. Especially if it is a neutral colour suit and you have interesting diverse shirts and ties. Make sure that the suit is one that you will be able to buy more pants as required. Eg you might need to buy one pair of extra pants a year.

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chenda
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Re: About to start a new career (budget / finc. analyst) in an office setting. Advice?

Post by chenda » Tue Jan 03, 2017 6:22 am

Don't take it too seriously.

chicago81
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Re: About to start a new career (budget / finc. analyst) in an office setting. Advice?

Post by chicago81 » Tue Jan 03, 2017 9:51 am

Scott 2 wrote:Be liked, easy to work with, competent. In that order.

So if the group wants to do it wrong, happily agree and discover it doesn't work with them, instead of insisting they do it right.
Oh my gosh, this is the best advice I've heard in a long, long time.

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Dragline
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Re: About to start a new career (budget / finc. analyst) in an office setting. Advice?

Post by Dragline » Tue Jan 03, 2017 10:25 am

Yup, treat this like an anthropological study going in -- figure out why people do what they do in the way they do, and reserve judgment for much much later, or maybe never.

Are you sure you need to wear suits all the time? Most places are "office casual" these days, which means slacks, a coat and buttoned shirt at its most formal. See what other people are wearing before you spend any money. You might get away with khakis and golf-type shirts in some places.

OTCW
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Re: About to start a new career (budget / finc. analyst) in an office setting. Advice?

Post by OTCW » Tue Jan 03, 2017 10:50 am

Agree - figure out the dress code expectations before you buy anything. I would just ask the person(s) that did your interview.

Also,

Be on time.
Do stuff on time.
Do stuff right.
Don'tcomplain about assignments.
Don't argue politics or religion.
Keep organized.
Do your bit at the coffee pot. Make your share if you drink it, and even make an occasional pot even if you don't.
Don't gossip. Especially in a small office when you don't know the relationships yet.
If there are cliques you will probably end up in one, but make an effort to get to know everyone.
Don't undermine anyone else to try and get ahead or to make them look bad.
Pretend you are the client and produce your work accordingly.
Be nice/respectful to the admin support.
Don't make smelly lunches
Easy on the cologne, air fresheners, other stuff like that.
Respect other people's space, ideas, contributions, strengths, and limits.
Ask for advice when you need it.
Don't make a lot of noise.
Limit personal phone calls/business.
Put away the smart phone.
Relax.

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Gilberto de Piento
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Re: About to start a new career (budget / finc. analyst) in an office setting. Advice?

Post by Gilberto de Piento » Tue Jan 03, 2017 11:52 am

Office clothes, shoes, and jackets are often much cheaper at a thrift store than new. Many people seem to buy clothes and never use them (still have the tags) or wear them only a few times before donating them. This is dependent on finding a thrift store that has these items and then finding the size you need and having it be in good condition for the right price.

Don't make a statement with your clothes. Boring is ok, especially if you are new. Avoid colors that don't suit your skin tone, for example, a pink shirt can make white skin look red.

Take your lunch. Don't fall into the "going out to lunch" every day pattern.

Don't try to keep up with others' spending. Just because they have a new car and a giant tv means you need them too.

Avoid personal finance discussions and teaching or helping others with personal finance. Don't evangelize.

George the original one
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Re: About to start a new career (budget / finc. analyst) in an office setting. Advice?

Post by George the original one » Tue Jan 03, 2017 2:20 pm

Lemur wrote:Work hard, listen to your boss, do what you're told, etc..
This is why many employers are prejudiced in favor of former military. Naturally not all ex-military can adjust to civilian life.

***
Probably the one bit of advice others have left out is that you will not be physically active. In order to keep your health, you will need exercise and/or diet changes.

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Olaz
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Re: About to start a new career (budget / finc. analyst) in an office setting. Advice?

Post by Olaz » Tue Jan 03, 2017 2:59 pm

Lemur wrote: - I would describe my personality as INFJ. Not a question just a statement to give you a small idea of the type of person I am.
I'm in / will likely be in a similar position: I'm super interested to find out how this experience will be for you. Good luck!

EdithKeeler
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Re: About to start a new career (budget / finc. analyst) in an office setting. Advice?

Post by EdithKeeler » Tue Jan 03, 2017 9:02 pm

Congratulations on your new job!

I'll echo all of what OTCW said.

I'd add to the list:
--I'm sure someone will train you or show you the ropes or whatever. Make sure you make notes, and consult those notes before you ask questions. I've hired and trained people and even pointedly said "You probably will want to write that down." "No, I got it..." and then the next day they're asking about what you went over yesterday.
--Corollary: always bring a notepad and pen to meetings. EVERY TIME. (Yeah, seems obvious, and yet...)
--Figure out how to dialogue with your boss. I don't mean talking about the football game, but how to talk to him/her about work, career, etc. This may take some time as you figure out the office culture, etc., and your boss may talk to you about how he/she wants to communicate. But I'd suggest some form of a regular (once a month, once every 2 month?), short (you want to respect your boss's time) one-on-one discussion about 1) how you're doing, 2) what you can improve upon, 3) what additional stuff you might be able to take on, 4) how you can HELP YOUR BOSS, 5) those questions about what classes you might take, etc. Again--not right away--please get the lay of the land first--but making sure you have a good rapport with your boss, even if you don't like him/her, is important. Some bosses are GREAT about having these conversations, some aren't. Some companies have these kinds of meetings built into their corporate culture, some don't.
--Don't disclose too much of your personal "stuff," even if you make friends with people at work. Also, I'd avoid too much socializing with work people. Sure, go to the office happy hour, but don't drink too much and don't be the last person there. It's important for 2 reasons: one, work has a way of taking over your life sometimes. You spend too much time with work people, it's worse. And two: you don't want to be that person that everyone talks about for years: "And then, at the Christmas party...." (An employee at my job recently celebrated her 30 year anniversary at the company. She and a couple coworkers were telling some negative stories about former employees. You don't want to be that guy....).
--When they ask for volunteers, volunteer sometimes. Not every time, but sometimes. Even if it's not something you really want to do. People who volunteer get noticed in a good way.

Lemur
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Re: About to start a new career (budget / finc. analyst) in an office setting. Advice?

Post by Lemur » Tue Jan 03, 2017 10:00 pm

@thrifty++

Thank you for your post. This is really good advice and I needed some direct advice like that because I had nothing to go on.

@Chenda

I'll remember to not take it too seriously...my perfectionist attitude has already weakened in work settings...I learned in the military just because you work that hardest doesn't necessarily mean you will be promoted the quickest. Something about Gervaris (spelling?) principal....

@Dragline

Good idea about seeing what others wear first. I'm working at prestigious government building so knowing how D.C. can be I'm sure its pretty formal though the business I am working for has multiple offices and I was told in the interview the dress code is ultimately determined by which office you're working in that day.

@OTCW

I learned that hard way about arguing politics or religion once before...Will avoid that for sure. Thanks!

@Gilberto de Piento

Never will evangelize because I have tried that before. I have met many people that asked for financial advice and my words fell on deaf ears. I don't even waste my energy on it anymore unless in the rare case I have built a relationship with someone over the long-term. And even than I caution.

@George the original one

No problem for me. I'm under 15% body fat...workout 3x a week. Perhaps my place of work has a gym. Not sure yet.

@Olaz

Message me a few months from now and I will be happy to get back to you. I mostly browse ERE but I log on once in a while.

@EdithKeeler

Thanks for taking the time to write out a long post for me. I will remember to bring a notepad because I do have pretty fickle memory.

Scott 2
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Re: About to start a new career (budget / finc. analyst) in an office setting. Advice?

Post by Scott 2 » Wed Jan 04, 2017 10:35 am

A lot of the individual items above can be totally ignored. They are personal tactics for the game, not a strategy.

I say this because I spent a lot of the early part of my career trying to be perfect and inoffensive. It held me back. Only the sharpest edges on your behavior will really hurt you. Everyone has their own personal quirks, and when yours are presented as normal, they are OK.

If people perceive you as "one of us" they find all sorts of "unprofessional' behavior completely acceptable. The higher you go, the more this is true. It's the real game, and if you play it, you will soar past your inoffensive professional colleagues.

It's a little riskier and you might upset some people. In my experience, removing the constraints makes a world of difference in productivity, and more than justifies the risk.

One other bit of advice, HR's primary purpose is to protect the company. They are not looking out for you as an individual. Avoid whenever possible.

Lemur
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Re: About to start a new career (budget / finc. analyst) in an office setting. Advice?

Post by Lemur » Fri Feb 10, 2017 7:22 pm

I have been at my job for a few weeks now and I gotta say it was not what I expected. This job is 10x easier than what I thought it was going to be. I get along great with my coworkers and I'm already a POC for a project (even during my 7 year military career....I was never in charge of anything really except one time I can think of).

Anyhow I actually come into my work at the right time because they're switching our entire financial / accounting system to a new system so I will be learning at the same pace as everybody else.

Government finance....doesn't get any easier. I have my Traditional IRA maxed and my 401k contributions set at 25% (this does not max me out at 18k). Will have to live a few weeks on my new budget to see how it plays out and how much wiggle room I have.

Thanks for the suggestions in this thread! They actually helped me quite a bit. I have a cheap $35 suit that I switch with tops/ties and it looks good.

On another note...I am commuting 2 hours to and from work everyday but my situation is tricky because I'm renting and stuck in a lease until June. The catch is that I have a spouse/son but I split my rent and all my utility bills in half with my sister. If I move closer to the city its going to be more expensive and I don't get the benefit of split bills. Its something I have to weigh.

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