If you are one of the fortunate college grads who has landed a job right out of placement season, your attention will soon turn to launch your career in a successful way by excelling in your first job. Your attitude and work ethic will determine to a large degree whether that experience is a positive one and provides a platform for a viable career.
Here are 10 practical tips and strategies to make your first job a thorough success:
1. Get to know the preferences and expectations pertaining to your job role.
You were hired for a reason. Is it to generate ideas? To add a design or technical skills that were lacking? To deftly oversee client projects? Learning where you fit within the overall business strategy is something that may seem obvious but is often overlooked. Figure this out early.
2. Establish expectations with your boss.
It is important to define what a win is in your boss’s eyes. What does she expect you to learn and accomplish? How quickly does she expect to see results? The more clarity you build around these issues, the easier your transition will be. Listen carefully to the directions that your supervisor offers and also ask other trusted colleagues for suggestions on ways to measure up to your supervisor’s expectations.
3. Let your work speak for itself.
After a rigorous interview process, it can feel like you described your skills and experiences, so now that you’re hired you can get work. The thing is, most people in the company don’t know who you are, why you were hired, or what specifically you bring to the table. Make sure your team knows your resume and has viewed your portfolio. It gives people around you context, a view into your style, and an idea of how you compliment or challenge them.
4. Learn communication patterns. Cracking the code of company culture often comes down to simply learning how people communicate with one another. Does your boss expect you to keep her informed on the details, or come to her with only the big problems? Does your team need constant validation or complete autonomy? It is not only a matter of imposing your own communication preferences on the organization but assimilating into the patterns that already exist.
5. Use Business Communication to Impress.
Send emails (about meaningful work issues) early and/or late in the day to show that you are not only present but productive. Provide your boss with frequent updates on the status of your projects so it is clear that you are making a solid contribution. Ask for help when you are stuck but don’t be overly needy and try to figure out as much as you can on your own. Solicit feedback periodically and respond positively to constructive criticism but don’t expect the frequency of feedback to match that of your teachers, coaches, parents and professors.
6. Maintain a regular work schedule:
It might be difficult for you to juggle work & college work, especially if you have been hired before the end of the final semester. However, you have been hired for work. Therefore, Plan to arrive earlier and/or stay later than your supervisor to prove you are ready to work hard. Do not miss work time unless it is absolutely essential and then work from home if possible or put in extra hours to catch up when you return.
7. Behave Maturely.
Behaving in a college or school is very different from how you should behave in an office environment. Be on your best behaviour in an office. There are several office ethics that you need to keep in mind. Talk politely with everyone and do not argue to prove a point. It is better to listen and observe quietly rather than voicing out your opinions without thinking through. Listening to everyone and observing your work environment will help you learn faster before you actually start talking business.
8. Beware of Social Media – Use it cautiously.
Avoid continual checks of your cell phone and other social media outlets while at work. If compelled to do so, try to keep it at a minimum and do so in privacy. Employers don’t want to pay you to keep in touch with your friends. Review your social media imprint and make sure any personal information visible to the public reflects a professional image. You can establish a LinkedIn profile. Join your company group/ page, and add your colleagues as contacts.
9. Be Friendly, Interactive and Use good work ethics.
Introduce yourself to as many co-workers as possible and learn about the role they play and the work done by their department. Be a team player and treat others at your own level (or below) positively. Give credit to others where due but make sure your supervisor is well aware of your contributions in your updates (use a factual, a matter of fact tone). You can even offer to help others out, if you have the time or inclination, during their crunch time with projects but only after consulting with your supervisor and making sure there isn’t anything else she would prefer that you were doing.
10. Affiliate with positive people and avoid complainers and slackers at all costs.
Stay away from troublemakers from work. Don’t gripe or complain to co-workers since you never know who will quote you or cast you in a negative light. Stay away from the gossip mongers, especially if you are new in the office, as it can greatly damage your reputation in the eyes of your seniors. It is best to have a diplomatic relationship with such people as they can prove to be hindrances in your path to success.
Overall, approach every task with enthusiasm and attention to detail – no matter how mundane (or seemingly beneath you). You will be measured by your ability to carry out your initial role in a positive and effective manner. Your middle name should be “can do” and your attitude should reflect this approach with a smile.
You’ll only have one first job, so make the most of it and you will set the stage for an exciting and successful long term career!