College of the

Monday-Thursday 9:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m.
Friday Closed

Phone: (707) 476-4159

E-mail: career@redwoods.edu
Web: www.redwoods.edu

New Student Services Building room SS-102

Career Development & Student Employment

Stop, Look and Listen!
Your Guide to a Successful Work Experience


Getting to Know Your Workplace

Remember the old childhood saying that encouraged you to Stop, Look and Listen before crossing a street? Think of your next job as a crowded intersection with many types of traffic coming and going; some going along rather fast, others slower, some making a turn. You may notice vehicles whose drivers are very busy talking on the phone while they drive, and there are newer vehicles alongside the old beaters on the road.The variety of traffic at a busy intersection can be compared to the ordinary workplace. At first it may seem a confusing and even dangerous place. Once the rules and courtesies are understood, strategies can be developed for surviving and thriving in the workplace environment. Whether this is your first job or your tenth, there are certain basic practices that will help you to become a valued employee. Just as important, having a good understanding of the workplace environment will create opportunities for you to learn and grow, making your employment a more personally rewarding experience.

Workplace Basics: Getting Started

You did all the right things in the application process and interview, and you've finally been hired for that job you were hoping to get. But now what? The first days on the job are often the toughest, but there are some steps you can take to help make your work experience more rewarding from the very beginning. After you are hired, be sure to observe the basic practices of a good employee. These workplace basics are important, whether the job is a paid position (including a Work -study job) or a volunteer work experience. Below are some important traits of a valued employee:

Show up every day

Be on time

Be ready for work

Be willing to learn

Maintain a good attitude

    You were probably hired because your employer thought you would make a good "fit" for the workplace you are now in. Employers today recognize that a smooth running operation depends upon a good working team. When you start a new job, be sure to take notice of the working roles of your co-workers, and determine how you fit into the picture. Your employer will appreciate your interest in working cooperatively with your coworkers.

Looking Good at Work: A "How To"

Plenty has been written about what to wear to a job interview. But after you have successfully landed a job, what then? You will need to have a reasonable selection of everyday wear so that getting ready for work is not a struggle. Below are some tips for successfully and inexpensively building a working wardrobe from scratch for both men and women:

  • A working wardrobe should consist of the type of clothing appropriate for the kind of workplace you work at. Clean, unwrinkled professional attire is a must for the office or retail setting. If you work outdoors, or in a shop setting, your "work clothes" may or may not be more casual, depending upon an employer's expectations. If you are unsure, ask your supervisor or a trustworthy co-worker.
  • It need not cost a fortune to build a working wardrobe. If you are on a limited budget, a second hand clothing store is a great place to start for both men and women. Do some experimenting, locate some favorite shops that seem to have the kinds of clothing you like, and be prepared to spend some time making your choices.
  • When beginning to build a professional wardrobe, keep your outfits simple to begin with. Shop first for a few solid color basics that match well, and build around them. Add accessories and print items as a second step ; they can add sparkle to your overall look but aren't the foundation of your wardrobe.
  • Coordinate your selections. We may hear people talk about "well coordinated outfits", but what does this really mean? It means that every time you add an item to your closet, think about how it ties in with your wardrobe as a whole, as well as an individual outfit. Buy things that go together so you can mix and match to create more outfits. That way you will avoid wasting money on items that you don't end up wearing.
  • Choose items that you enjoy wearing, that also fit in with the workplace. You need to feel comfortable in your clothing and with your look.
  • Color! Start your wardrobe with neutral tone color basics, then begin adding colors that look well on you. Everyday outfits should be color coordinated so that the parts of your outfit blend together well.
  • Get to know what you like. As you gain more experience, you can become more adventurous in your selection of colors and fabric textures. Remember, having a good working wardrobe depends not on how much you spend, or wearing the "latest style", but making well coordinated additions to your outfits, and your wardrobe as a whole.

Road Blocks (Q & A)

Q: What if my child is sick? A: Having a solid support system, consisting of trustworthy friends and relatives, can go a long way towards helping you out in emergency situations.
Q: What if my car breaks down? A: Work out the details of a "game plan" that you can follow when unexpected problems arise. Arrange for coverage with a trusted friend before a situation arises that demands a quick solution...and have a back-up plan as well.
Q: What if I have a disagreement with a co-worker or if I don't like my boss? A: Many challenging work situations can be resolved through clear and non-judgmental communications, at the right time, between you and all parties concerned. Sometimes an unbiased third party assisting in the communication process can be helpful.
Q: What if I suspect I'm being treated unfairly by my employer? A: If you feel that you are the victim of unfair labor practices, there are some steps that you may choose to take to confront the situation. Discrimination or harassment can be reported to the California State Department of Fair Employment and Housing.
Q: What if I'm disabled and my employer refuses to make reasonable accommodations that will allow me to work? A: Persons with disabilities are protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act. Learn your rights and act upon them in an appropriate manner.
Q: What if I don't like my job? A: If you come to realize that you've outgrown your current job, consider yourself lucky to have learned some valuable lessons about what you don't like. Next compose a list of things you would hope to find in a new job. Begin working on replacing your present employment with something more interesting, better paying, or whatever defines a better position in your mind. Before you quit your present position, generate a new opportunity for yourself, rather than simply quitting without a plan. It's always easier to find a job when you're already working.

Discrimination in Employment
Because of
Religious Creed
National Origin
Physical Handicap (including AIDS)
Medical Condition
Marital Status
is Prohibited by Law!
For more information contact the Department of Fair Employment and Housing:
30 Van Ness Avenue
Suite 3000
San Francisco, CA
1 (800) 884-1684
TDD (916) 324-1678

Moving On...It is courteous to give your employer two weeks notice before leaving the job. Avoid burning bridges; simply walking off a job without giving notice will likely alienate an employer from your best interest permanently. Be sure to ask for a written recommendation before you leave for good, if you think your work has been an asset to your employer. Waiting until a later time to arrange for a recommendation can be a frustrating experience, since sometimes employers go out of business, or your immediate supervisor may have moved on to other employment and be difficult to reach. A simple and honest written recommendation can be your ticket to a successful job search in the future.Success on the job has many ingredients, ranging from those which are required by an employer, to those things which define our own personal job satisfaction. Good luck in your journey through the world of work!

phone: (707) 476-4159
e-mail: career@redwoods.edu