Finishing college and entering the workforce can be a crazy transition to make. You’ll go from being a full-time student to working a 9-5, earning money, building a career, and needing to make professional moves. Naturally, this can be pretty daunting.
However, just because it seems overwhelming, doesn’t mean it has to be a negative experience! If you’re starting your very first job and you’re looking for a little guidance on how to handle things, here are ten tips that you can use and learn from to benefit you throughout your whole career.
- Embrace the Learning Curve
First of all, accept and embrace the fact that when you start your first job, or any new job, you’ll have a lot to learn! You won’t know much about your role, the industry, what’s expected of you, etc. However, not knowing something is just another opportunity to learn!
Embrace learning both in and out of the office. Read a workplace blog like Office Topics, talk to colleagues and mentors you trust, and approach all your tasks with a willingness to learn and ask questions.
- Understand Workplace Culture
Something you’ll get to know over the course of your career is that every workplace has its own culture and dynamic, and that this aspect is a really crucial factor – pivotal to your success and enjoyment of your job.
You’ll need to make sure that you make the effort to understand and adapt to any company culture you encounter. This means paying attention to communication styles, dress codes, and both the formal and informal codes and regulations within your workplace. When you understand and can adapt to these, you’ll be able to fit in easier.
- Manage Your Time Wisely
Working a 9-5 requires a different set of time management skills that college does. When you’re in college, your time is more your own – whether or not you attend classes or hand in your assignments on time really only impacts you.
However, when you work for someone else, showing up for meetings and making sure you meet deadlines is pivotal for the company’s overall success. This means you’re going to need to set priorities, write to-do lists, and make sure you stay on top of everything that comes your way.
- Embrace Constructive Feedback
You’ll soon find that any criticism at work can be a hard pill to swallow. However, feedback is essential for your growth and will only benefit you in the long run!
When you’re offered constructive feedback, be grateful for the assistance and take it to heart so that you can learn from it. However, make sure to identify negative criticism that’s more of a personal attack than constructive feedback from anyone in your team, and discuss it with those in charge.
- Remember Communication is Key
Learning to communicate in business and on a professional level is a key skill that you’ll need for the rest of your life.
Observe how your team members and colleagues communicate with one another, with the higher-ups in the company, and with clients and customers. Learn from their communication styles, and practice your own active listening and clear speaking. Making sure that you’re communicating your thoughts, ideas, and needs clearly is pivotal for professional success.
- Become Adaptable
In our jobs, it’s almost inevitable that we’re going to be handed tasks that we feel unprepared for, asked questions we don’t know the answers to, and expected to do things we’re not sure how.
Being flexible and showing that you’re up for the challenge will not only show your team and your employers that you’re an absolute trooper who can do anything – it will also provide you with the opportunity to lean to do these things you don’t feel quite capable of. Next time, you’ll be confident.
- Develop Professional Relationships
In business, it’s all about who you know, and great networking can take place right in your own office too.
Once you start working, make an effort to build and nurture professional relationships, with your colleagues, employers, and other people like clients that you meet in the industry. Attend business events and put in the effort to mingle with your co-workers when someone hosts an office happy hour. It might not be fun, but you’ll thank yourself later in your career for making the contacts.
- Know Your Boundaries
It’s also important to set your boundaries when you first start working. It’s easy to fall into the trap of picking up every little task thrown at you and working crazy overtime hours because you desperately want to impres your boss and prove yourself.
It’s common for new employees (especially newly graduated employees) to be taken advantage of. It’s okay to work a little harder to earn your place, but it’s not okay to let your co-workers walk all over you, or allow your boss to disrespect your personal time. Set firm boundaries and stick to them!
- Take Initiative
Another way to impress your team, other than simply working long into the night, is to be innovative and take action even when you aren’t expected to. Especially in the early days, taking initiative will show your new employer that they made the right decision, and you’ll also learn more and quicker this way.
Look for areas where you can help out, take on tasks and responsibilities without being asked, offer up your best ideas, and actively contribute to meetings. If you want to take initiative on a more social level, make an effort to learn your colleagues drink orders and surprise them with a spontaneous coffee run on a Friday morning – if there’s one way to make yourself popular, this is it.
- Prioritize Self-Care
Finally, when you enter the workforce, remember that your job is not your identity, and you still need to take care of yourself as a person.
Make time for your personal needs after work hours and over the weekends. Engage in hobbies, spend time with friends and family, exercise and de-stress. Your work will always be waiting for you on Monday morning, but if you haven’t cared for yourself in the meantime, it will suffer!
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