Tags

, , , , , , , ,

Coming out of college and into your first job can be a major learning curve. It can be a ridiculous combination of exciting and terrifying.

First, take a deep breath.

Second, congratulate yourself because you got a job!

Now, about how to not screw it up..

1.Be teachable. You may have been at the top of your class in college, but here you are the smallest of the fish. You are the plankton that the fish eat. Be humble and allow others to correct you. When they do, be humble and say thank you.

2. Arrive early and leave late. It’s five after and your teammates are looking around wondering, “Is she coming in today?” You never want to be that person. A good reputation takes decades to build. Start today. This doesn’t mean you have to be a work-a-colic, but it does mean that you need to have a solid work ethic. Work while you’re at work. Don’t surf the web or shop for that new dress at J.Crew you’ve been eying. Do that on your own time. They pay you to work, so do that.

3. Observe and mimic the professionalism you see. Every place is different, so pay attention to how your colleagues and how your boss interact with others. Do they refer to everyone by Mr. and Ms.? Same goes for attire. For example, the place I currently work at is much more formal than the last place I worked at (which was an agency and notorious for allowing more “creativity” in dress.) You won’t know until you’re there, so it’s best to overdress at first then take it down if necessary. You don’t want to do the opposite. Wherever you work, dress modestly. As a woman, if you don’t, you’ll distract all the men and the women will despise you. Don’t be that girl. Always default to the highest professionalism and etiquette.

4. Be flexible. Because you are the newbie, expect last-minute projects to get dumped on your desk an hour before you were “planning” on leaving to go have happy hour with your college friends. Your boss might come to you and ask you to do something you’ve never done before. Accept the task with enthusiasm and just don’t be shy to ask questions. Everything else no one wants to do is now delegated to you. Chin up, someday you’ll be the one with the seniority and will get to delegate them to another sorry soul. Pay your time and whatever you do, don’t whine about it in the meantime.

5. Lay low. You’re coming into a whole new environment on a previously established team. Eat your lunch at your desk the first few days to scout out what your colleagues do. At some places, everyone eats at their desks because you’re expected to continue to crank out the work. Other places it’s common for everyone to get up and go down to the cafeteria. It totally varies from place to place. Bring a non-perishable sandwich for your first day. My default is always PB&J. You’ll most likely be taken out to lunch on your first day, but some places do it during your first week, so you don’t want to be high and dry on your first day. When it comes to taking vacation, you’re at the bottom of the totem pole, so plan on working through the first holiday. It’s OK to request vacation, but do so knowing the chances of it being permitted are slim.

6. Be organized. Bring a notebook and pen to every meeting. When your boss asks you to step in his office, do the same. Every meeting, every phone call, have a notebook ready. Use it to keep a daily to-do list where you prioritize your tasks. It’s up to you to figure out how to get it all done. You’re a professional now. See what needs to be done and put it on your list. That will make you stand out.

7. Don’t gossip. Keep your mouth shut. You may not agree with how management is running things. Don’t be divisive. It speaks ill of you as a person and if management catches wind of it, you’re done. Additionally, don’t speak ill about your colleagues. No one ever has been BFFs with all their colleagues. It’s inevitable that you’ll work with people that you’d prefer not to. This isn’t a sorority. Remember they’re paying you. Keep it professional, keep it classy.