Many of you will be starting jobs this June after school end. People who have been in their careers for years always have some advice they wish they had gotten when they were starting out. Below are some advice and tips to help you make the most of the experience and set yourself up for success in the first 90 days on the job.
- Be a learner, not a knower.
Take the time to understand your team, the culture, goals and overall vibe of your new workplace. 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. Keep a small journal with you to record key observations about the organization, your role, and your own career development. And make sure to ask questions! Asking questions demonstrates engagement in your job and organization, not ignorance or lack of skills.
While you’re still learning, be sure to ask yourself: How do I like to learn? How do I like to receive feedback? Be sure to ask for feedback with you are starting out. If you are meeting expectations, keep up the good work! If you are not, it is good to be aware early on so you can adjust your work and request additional guidance. You will likely be given many opportunities to learn new skills and concepts. Understanding what you need and how you need it early on in will make learning curves and performance reviews much easier to tackle.
- 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.
- Understand communication styles
Learn who doesn’t mind interruptions or who prefers to receive an email, phone call or text. You’ll receive a response in a timelier manner when you know your team’s preferred style. As the newest member of your team, it can be overwhelming as you navigate your job, relationships, and supervisors. Take the time to be thoughtful and open to learning as much as you can while it is still acceptable to call yourself the “newbie” on the team!
- Build relationships.
Whether you are new to the field or have been working this type of job for a while, 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!
- Find a mentor
Your mentor does not have to be your supervisor. In fact, it may be better to find a different mentor that you can go to for advice when you have to have tough conversations with co-workers of your supervisor. This person may be within your organization or may be someone you met while networking. Mentors are a good way to get outside advice and help you keep moving forward in your career.
And while we’re on the topic of mentors, why limit yourself to just one? The more people you can turn to for advice – or to simply bounce an idea off of – the better! When it comes to advancing your career, the people you surround yourself with and the people you turn to for support are crucial to your success.
- Forgive yourself
Nobody is perfect. We all inevitably make mistakes in our careers at some point. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take risks. In fact, studies have shown that strategically-planned risks can be a key to your success in the business world (and probably other sectors as well). Stay confident, know your self-worth, and forgive yourself if and when you make mistakes. As long as you are learning from your mistakes, they are still worth it. Just view your missteps as opportunities for improvement and keep moving forward in your career journey.
- Track your accomplishments
Tracking your accomplishments on-the-job is great advice, regardless of what stage you’re in with your career. It is recommended that you do this in real time, as they happen. Write them down, update your resume/CV, or add them to your LinkedIn profile so you don’t forget them. Even better: consider creating your own website, complete with a bio, resume/CV, and career accomplishments. Not only will it look good in future job interviews when you are able to easily list your accomplishments at previous jobs, but it will also boost your confidence and can even help you negotiate that pay raise we mentioned above.
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. 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.
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!
[Author’s note: Parts of this blog were originally published in ” Your First 90 Days on the Job- From Interview to Success “- October, 2017 by Mary Michael Hawkins, “Tips for Success on the Job!”- May, 2018 by Kimberly English and ” Just Starting Your Career? 6 Expert Tips”- May, 2017 by Gloria Martinez has been updated for accuracy and clarity]