For recent grads, entering the professional world for the first time is often intimidating.
You may think you know what to expect. You’re wrong.
No matter what industry you enter, there are certain things – perhaps things no one ever told you – that you must be prepared for as you launch your career:
1. Things Will Pick Up Very Quickly
As soon as you get through the paperwork and on-boarding phase, things will get going very quickly. You’ll have tasks to complete almost immediately, and you’ll have to come up with a plan to get everything done. Stay on top of your game by coming up with a plan and following it.
2. You’ll Have to Handle a Lot on Your Own
You’re no longer an intern where everything is supervised closely. Now you have to do things independently. You have to make sure you get everything done and complete tasks by their deadlines. Ask lots of questions at the beginning to make sure you do things the right way. Additionally, you probably won’t receive as much feedback as you did when you were an intern. Don’t expect them to give you a review for everything you complete. If you’re concerned about how you’re doing, you need to ask your boss yourself.
3. Your Opinion Matters – Everytime
More than being independent, you will also have to be creative. You will be expected to share your ideas and come up with new methods. Identify problems and come up with solutions. Be vocal during brainstorm sessions. Devise ways to be more efficient or come up with new ways to do your job. Just because you’re new doesn’t mean your opinion isn’t important. You were hired for a reason.
4. Maintain an Emphasis on Self-Learning
Even though you’re expected to do all of these independent things, don’t think you need to know how to do everything. Your first job is also about learning. Learn how to manage your time, meet deadlines, work with your team, and more. Additionally, if your company provides opportunities to further your education (through special programs, tuition reimbursement, or something else), take advantage of it. There is always something new to learn.
5. Respond in a Timely Manner
Okay, you’ve probably heard this before… yet it remains a common failing point for young professionals: In the working world, responding to emails and communications in a timely manner is essential. Everyone you deal with throughout your career has deadlines to meet and someone to whom they report. That’s why it is essential to respond to colleagues, customers and managers within 24 hours. In fact, the sooner the better. Be sure to read through your responses carefully; being quick is no excuse for bad spelling or grammar. Be efficient – and professional.
6. Networking Is Just As Important After You Land the Job
You must continue networking throughout your entire career! Attend company outings, industry events, and get to know your colleagues. Networking will continue to be important in your future. Whether it comes in handy when you change jobs or when you need to collaborate on a project. You never know when those connections will be helpful.
7. Get Involved
In college it was easy to get involved in extracurricular activities because they were so abundant on campus. Now that you’re in the real world, you need to make the extra effort to stay active. Join alumni groups, professional organizations, volunteer organizations, and more. Go out to happy hour with your co-workers. These are all great places to make new friends and stay busy. It’s important to put some effort into your social life once you leave the comfort of college.
8. Track of Your Accomplishments
Throughout your career, and especially during your first job, you should keep track of the things you do. Whether it’s articles you write, outlines of brainstorming sessions, reviews of financial statements for a client, plans for an event, or an email marketing campaign, all of these things matter. Keeping a file of all of these work accomplishments will help you discuss your job with your boss or even interviewers in the future.
9. Always Maintain Professional Standards
No matter the culture at your company, there is no excuse for being unprofessional once you start your first job. Every time you are in the presence of a colleague, you need to look and act the part. Don’t get too comfortable; always be on time, be courteous, and dress professionally. Think about where you want your career to go and act like you already belong there.
10. Always Be Positive
This is not a cliche… this is fact. You must maintain a positive attitude! Your first job might be overwhelming at first, and eventually some of your duties might become tedious. Whether you feel stressed out about your work or you’re growing bored with it, remaining positive is incredibly important. Simply put: those who complain about their jobs aren’t nearly as successful as those who embrace them.
For this post, YouTern thanks our friends at Great Resumes Fast!
About the Author: Heather R. Huhman is a Glassdoor career and workplace expert, experienced hiring manager, and founder & president of Come Recommended, a content marketing and digital PR consultancy for job search and human resources technologies. She is also the instructor of Find Me A Job: How To Score A Job Before Your Friends, author of Lies, Damned Lies & Internships (2011) and #ENTRYLEVELtweet: Taking Your Career from Classroom to Cubicle (2010), and writes career and recruiting advice for numerous outlets. Follow Heather on Twitter!
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