Once you have graduated and landed your first job, the voyage has started. The safe haven of the classroom has now become the reality of your first job…Lots to learn and lots of challenges ahead.
Now, the “real-world” education kicks in and it will be a greater learning curve that you could ever have imagined. You will be tested on your work and deadlines every day. Remember, you will not be paid or rewarded for effort. You will be paid for results.
Your performance in school impacted only you, nobody else. In stark contrast, your performance at work impacts your company, your bosses and your co-workers.
Here are some thoughts to help you make the transition from graduate to a successful career.
- Shift your focus from “I” to “We.” Throughout your school years the focus has been on you. Basically, you picked and chose what to do and when to do it. Now the person who pays you controls that. Think “we” and what you can contribute to the good of the company and you will be on the right track.
- Etiquette Counts. Your every behavior will be noticed. “Please and Thank-you” are still the best words in the English language. Be polite, be punctual, dress appropriately, and avoid office gossip.
- People first. Your ability to get along with the people you work with and for will be the key to your success and happiness in your career. You don’t choose your co-workers, but your ability to work with them is what you are being paid to do. Learn to be tolerant and cooperative. Likeable and pleasant to work with beats a bad attitude every time. People skills count.
- Ask questions. Asking questions and taking advice isn’t a sign of weakness. Seeking ways to improve yourself is a sign of maturity. When you are new on the job there are no poor or dumb questions. Pay attention, observe and learn from the experienced people around you. It is better to learn by asking questions than by making mistakes.
- Networking never ends. Most likely it was your networking that played a part in you landing your first job. Your network will unquestionably help you navigate the rest of your career. Keep networking. You can never have enough contacts in your business network.
- Write really well. Develop your skill with written communications to the highest level in everything you write (including emails). Often your written communication will be a first impression and will show you are capable and intelligent.
- Learn to be a great presenter. The ability to stand up and make a presentation might be the single most important business skill you will ever learn. If you cannot present your ideas, who will?
- Keep your resumé current. You cannot know when the next opportunity will present itself or, worst case, when something will happen at your job that forces you to move quickly to another opportunity. Make sure your resumé is always updated with promotions and accomplishments.
- Avoid acting like an idiot. Too often talented people “shoot themselves in the foot” by stupid habits, improper attire, being late, inappropriate jokes or language, etc. You need to prove you can follow the rules before you can get away with breaking them. It’s hard to earn respect when you’ve been fired. Exercise good judgment always.
- Appreciate the people who help you. Never burn bridges. It is a small world and you need all the friends and support you can get. Those who helped you get your job and those you work with will always be your safety net if you treat them right.
“The best way to appreciate your job is to imagine yourself without one” …Oscar Wilde