If you’ve landed one, congratulations! Take a minute, enjoy the moment and read these pointers to help you get ready for the real world:
1. Your boss is a valuable resource
A smart boss will take the time to explain the job to you, provide training and monitor your progress. They aren’t your friend, so maintain professional relationships, but they, and you, should be friendly and pleasant.
A good supervisor will be responsive to your questions and help you move forward in your career.
2. Walk in prepared
No matter how much research you do, there is going to be a learning curve. But if you have a good idea of what the company does and how your role relates to that, you’ll flatten out that learning curve quickly after learning where the cafeteria and bathrooms are. Look at LinkedIn, Glassdoor and other online resources.
3. Be part of the team
You’re joining a group of people who have been working together for some time. While you might have hated doing group projects in school, you’ll need to learn how to do that now. You will likely rely on your co-workers, and your co-workers will rely on you. The most successful groups complete their tasks by working well together.
4. Hang your ego next to your diploma
Since you’re the new person on the scene, be prepared to listen and learn. Soak up all the information you can. Learn from people at the company who have experience on the job and can help get you up to speed.
While it is tempting to work extra hard to make a good impression, give yourself a chance to meet and get to know your co-workers. This is a simple way to build team chemistry without resorting to the painful “team-building exercises” you may have to go through.
6. Dress the part
This is office life 101: before you start, try and determine the office’s dress code and conform to it.
If you aren’t able to figure this out before your first day, err on the side of formality. Leave the extra piercings and ripped jeans at home until you get a sense of the office protocol.
7. Be nice
Having your first impression be one of a friendly, open person goes a long way. You’ll meet a lot of new people; expect a diversity of ages, backgrounds, attitudes, work habits and experiences. A positive attitude and cheerful demeanor will mark you as someone people want to be around and work with.
8. Be flexible
You might have strolled off the graduation stage with a 4.0 and an armload of awards, but that still means you’re the new person in the office. That’s going to involve doing a certain amount of menial labor to work your way up the food chain. It’s not sexy work, but getting it done with a smile will give your boss a good impression.
Flexibility, responsiveness and adaptability are all good traits.
9. Mistakes happen
You make a mistake. It happens. The worst thing you can do is try to cover it up. Instead try to find a solution and fix it.
Keep your head up, recognize what you did wrong, learn from it and do your best to ensure it doesn’t happen again. If whatever you’re doing still feels awkward, take the time to practice on a weekend or away from the office without other people watching.
10. Make the effort
The easiest path to success at your first job is figuring out what your objective is and doing your best to achieve it. Particularly for entry positions, effort is an important, if not the most important, part of the job. Be there early and ready to get started.