Fresh out of school, your first job helps establish you in the professional world. But don’t kid yourself, being the new guy or gal in the office can be more stressful than you think. To help you transition, here are a few strategies for a successful first employment experience.
On time is five minutes early
Many first time professionals think that sneaking in right at 8 AM is okay. However, managers have a way of knowing, and it doesn’t make the best impression. Getting into the office a few minutes early give you time to mentally prepare.
Need a cup of coffee? Want to look over the schedule? Giving yourself at least five minute leeway will ensure you’re ready to go when the work day begins. Making a habit of starting work at the appointed time, and not arriving in a mad dash is something that you can start your very first day of your first job.
It might seem that you spend whole days in meetings. And sure, they may not be the most entertaining part of your day. But you can distinguish yourself in meetings simply by being alert and enthusiastic.
Take notes and ask questions, or make suggestions. Even sitting up in your chair, rather than slumped over, shows you’re actively paying attention and engaged. If you want to stand out and move up, make the most of your meetings and find ways to show your enthusiasm for your work and your company in meetings.
Take advantage of training opportunities
Many companies may offer opportunities for additional training, in areas as diverse as time management to Microsoft Office programs. Any chance you can take to add to your skills is a significant opportunity for you.
First, you get to acquire a new skill or add to your knowledge base—always a plus. As well, you can keep a list of training opportunities you took advantage of to present to your supervisor during annual reviews. It can help you keep you résumé up to date, too.
Finally, when it comes time to promote someone, if you took training on a skill needed for the promotion, you’ve put yourself in the best possible place to move up.
Sometimes your co-workers will need your help or expertise on a project. Be sure to be willing to help others accomplish their tasks. Then, when you are need of assistance, others will be more willing to pitch in.
One caveat: make sure you aren’t assisting others to the detriment of your own work. Make sure you either have time to complete your tasks or actually finish them to the best of your ability and then pitch in to help others.
Don’t expect every perk right away
Many first-time professionals will go into a job thinking they know it all, and therefore deserve all sorts of special treatment and attention. However, in the workplace, many things must be earned the old fashioned way—through strong performance over time.
Don’t be concerned with when you’ll get the corner office and the cherry assignments. If you do your best on each and every task you are asked to do, these things will come.
Instead of focusing on perks, look for opportunities to do or learn more, or find ways to build your expertise. These will lead towards rewards as you continue to grow professionally. When you think of your career as stepping stones leading to new and exciting opportunities, rather than keeping score of what you have and what you don’t, you’ll not only be happier, but you will seek out better ways to become the professional you dream you can be.
Reward yourself for milestones
Sometimes a new position can feel very overwhelming. One way to keep yourself motivated and on track is to find ways to reward yourself for hitting certain milestones.
You might set aside a few dollars each week towards a fancy dinner to celebrate six months at your new company. Or, you might join co-workers in a night out after finishing an important project together.
Smaller motivations, like a favorite dessert when you master a new task or skill, are another to remind yourself how much you are learning and growing in a new job.