Don’t burn your bridges.  Ever.  I don’t believe in karma.  But I do believe that the world is smaller than we think it is.  It is highly likely that you will have some type of business interaction with someone you have worked for or with once again at some point in your career.  That could mean needing a referral for a job from a former co-worker, working for the same boss again, or hiring someone you worked with before.  There are many ways this can play out.  So, don’t think it won’t happen to you.  Expect that you will walk across certain bridges again.  And whether you have left a company of your own volition, have been laid off or have been fired, try to exit gracefully.  Agree to disagree and when you walk away from a job or a business relationship, keep it as classy and as dignified as possible.  You never know when you will meet or work together again.

All work and no play makes you a dull worker.  In my first job, I chained myself to my desk.  Well, not really.  But I worked a lot of extra hours because I thought I was supposed to “pay my dues” as a new college graduate.  I was at the bottom of the totem pole, and I looked to the examples of other new hires to see how many hours they were logging.  Pretty soon, I was zapped.  I had no energy and no life, because all of my extra time was spent in the office (even many weekends).  I understand that you may need to do more of the grunt work in the early days of your career and put in some additional hours.  But do try to find some balance.  Engage in some extracurricular activities that speak to your passions and interests.  These outlets will fuel you, give you other ways in which to express yourself and you will return to the office each day a more refreshed—and interesting!—worker. 

This article originally posted September 8, 2008.