Tips for Success on the Job!

Do you have an internship, job, or another exciting opportunity lined up for the summer?


If you are wondering how to make the most of the experience, and set yourself up for success in the first 30, 60, or 90 days on the job, you are not alone. For many students and recent graduates, especially international students, this question can be puzzling to answer. The professional world, no matter your industry, may seem fraught with unwritten rules or unclear expectations. This is especially true for international students, because so much of what seems uncertain stems from communication and cultural norms. Here are some tips for success, adapted from “How Work Works” hosted by Daniels Career Services back on May 15. Thank you to Toni Phelan and DCB for coordinating such an informative event! The advice was great for any student interested in learning more about success on the job, but highlights and additional tips are below!

1. Be a learner, not a knower.

Nancie Halfmann, Talent Acquisition Manager at Slalom Consulting, gave a great talk on building your brand in the first 30, 60, or 90 days. One of the most important pieces of advice she shared was to, be a learner, not a knower. As a current student or recent graduate, you are often still in “student mode” when starting a new role. This can be an incredible asset. By adopting a beginner’s mindset – in other words, remaining both humble and curious – you can learn so much from your new coworkers or fellow interns. Keep a small journal with you to record key observations about the organization, your role, and your own career development.

While you’re still learning, be sure to ask yourself: How do I like to learn? How do I like to receive feedback? You will likely be given many opportunities to learn new skills and concepts, and you will definitely be given feedback on the job. Understanding what you need and how you need it early on in will make learning curves and performance reviews much easier to tackle.

2. Build relationships.

Whether you are starting an internship or a new job, networking is so important. Though this can be an intimidating subject for students, it’s a great way to practice communication skills and begin picking up cultural norms by talking to a wide variety of people at the organization. You never know, you may end up with a mentor or two!

Remember, your stellar performance in the interview got you the job; the spotlight isn’t on you in the same way when you are working. Don’t be afraid to practice professional communication, and especially your English! Invite your teammates and coworkers from other departments out to coffee or lunch and listen to their stories. This can help you to learn more about the organization’s culture, give you direction and ideas about your career, or leverage resources through your internal network later on.

3. Get to know your manager.

Building relationships within your organization goes beyond scheduling lunches with your coworkers and attending as many meetings as you can. Be sure to intentionally spend time getting to know your manager both as a person and a professional. Set up meetings with them early on to learn about any, or all, of these topics:

  • Their expectations for you;
  • Their goals, both for your role and for the department or organization;
  • How they prefer to give and receive feedback;
  • Communication style and preferences (Would they rather you stop by, call them, or email them with questions? Should questions be limited to 1:1 meetings, or can they be asked any time?);
  • How they define success and how they respond to setbacks.

We hope this helps you prepare for your new role! Seniors: don’t forget, Career & Professional Development is here to support you up to one year after graduation. If you want to discuss success on the job further, we are happy to help!

By Kimberly English
Kimberly English Career Advisor