You’ve graduated college and just started your first REAL job in your dream career field. Congratulations!
Landing the job was a major achievement, but now that you have it, you must establish a new set of goals to help you perform the job well, learn, learn, learn, and position yourself to move from this entry-level position to a job with more responsibilities.
Performing your job well starts before you even arrive at your desk or other work station. It starts at the front door of your apartment when you open it to leave for work: You should always leave home for your job at least twenty minutes earlier than you need to to ensure you arrive on time every day, a key to doing well professionally. This rule holds true not only for those of you who take the interstate, but also for those driving in town, walking, or taking public transportation. An accident or roadwork could potentially impact travel times and routes, so always be prepared to take a little longer to arrive at work so that you still arrive on time!
When you get to your workplace, you’re “on” before you even step past your company’s front doors. As you step out of your car in the parking lot or otherwise arrive at your worksite, make positive impressions on everyone you meet. Greet every person you encounter, from customers, the security guard (if your workplace employs one), colleagues, and up to the top person at the company. Don’t be shy. Build a reputation for being respectful of others. This can take you a long way in the workplace.
When you’re finally at your desk or other work station, greet each and every assignment your boss gives you, even if you’re not particularly interested in doing it, as an opportunity to learn and develop skills that might come in handy down the road. Then proceed to perform the assignment well. Do that by listening attentively to your boss’s work instructions and asking for clarification on any points on which you’re unsure. You’re not going to love everything you’re asked to do in your entry-level position, but that’s not the point. An open and positive attitude about your work is important because it will position you to learn more about your job.
An upbeat attitude about work assignments, attentive listening, and performing your tasks well will also impress your boss and will likely lead to more demanding assignments. This is important, because challenging tasks will position you to pick up new skills and expand your knowledge and know-how about your career field. Doing this demanding work well can help you to move up the career ladder in terms of responsibilities, and eventually, seasoned work that pays more.
As a newbie in the workplace, you should also seek out workplace mentors, people who may not necessarily be your boss. You may be young and still building your financial portfolio, so to speak, but you can offer to take coworkers out for lunch or coffee to ask them about your workplace’s general expectations of employees and the general workplace environment. Having this type of knowledge can help you understand what is and isn’t accepted workplace behavior and help you avoid traps that could trip you up when you’re simply trying to perform your job the best you can.
So the recipe for doing well in your first job includes showing up to work on time every day, pairing up with mentors, having a positive attitude and a willingness and openness to learn, respecting others, and positioning yourself to take on and perform tougher assignments well. Impress the boss and others, and be on your way to moving from your entry-level job to a higher position in your career.