Congratulations! You have worked hard, graduated, and found a job. (Yes, we know it sounds much easier than it is). You are happy the race for a job is finally over, but is it? Now your first day is coming up fast and you want to make a good impression.
Many recent grads entering the workforce think that finding a job is the hardest part and that it’s easy once your foot is in the door. For many, this expectation later proves false.
Many positions have steep learning curves, daily tasks become more and more difficult every day, and unforeseen issues arise. Some of the more common issues include becoming bored of the work, questioning whether taking the position was the right choice, debating whether or not to do more work when there is no immediate reward, or becoming worried that your colleagues’ friendliness only comes from professionalism. (We call the last one “Friends with 401k benefits” at work.)
The good thing is that a lot of us have been there before and have compiled a list of business tips that will help you cope with these issues. So, here are five pieces of advice to help you get into the routine of your job:
Tip 1: Realize you aren’t paying your boss, he is paying you.
Back in college, whenever you had a question mark in your head, there was always a multitude of people you could go to and ask about it. You did not need to expend a single extra synapse of critical thinking to solve the problem because nearly a quarter million dollars went to make sure you had enough resources to answer your every question.
But now, your boss is paying you and his time is valuable. He is not your professor, and no, he doesn’t have office hours. Your biggest resource in an office is your peers. Use them! Don’t have what we call a “silent Saturday,” turning in individual sub-par work. Collaborate and make use of your team to bring out your best. Moreover, no one is going to sit you down and give you a lecture (unless you really messed up); the only way to learn new skills is to rise up to new tasks.
Tip 2: Pick up the phone.
This is a saying often used in the consulting world, and it describes how problems disappear when you present your issues and options to the appropriate person. We should all get into the habit of making phone calls whenever we can. This is especially true for new team members who are struggling with very low return rates for their emails. Don’t hide behind an email! The important people who can help you get hundreds a day.
Tip 3: Don’t bother lying – everyone knows and no one cares.
Isn’t it funny how return flights from holidays always get delayed so people miss an extra day at work, but the reverse never happens? Or how public transportation just seems to be constantly problematic for some people, as if they have to cross TSA checkpoints to get to the office?
Excuses like that are easy to see through and very damaging to your reputation as a new employee. Your boss has seen many people fill in your position; most who tried to pull off those excuses did not last too long because people are paying you for results, not your learning processes or your excuses. If you have something legitimate that comes up that sounds like a lie, make sure you have proof of it.
If you have a flight to catch and cannot attend a day long work bender, bring your flight ticket with you to provide extra clarification. Being over prepared for every meeting with multiple copies and many notes is the key to a good start.
Tip 4: Understand those “easy” tasks get harder.
During your first week, you may be assigned some typical basic research or organizational task. The assignment may seem basic, straightforward, and a bit routine for the innovative firm that you joined and may lead you into reconsidering the position or the company. It is important to keep in mind that early routine tasks are there to test your resolve and need to be done FLAWLESSLY to demonstrate your ability to execute tasks. As you progress, you will build more trust and be given more challenging tasks. Do your best to over-deliver in these projects as well, and soon you will be given rewarding experiences and bigger learning opportunities.
Tip 5: Have fun!
A lot of people say you should try to have fun in the work. I have seen this to be an understatement because most of us just graduated from having four years full of fun and safety nets, and we are entering a different world where we are subject to much stricter rules.
The only way to cope with this difference is by making sure that the work you do or the company you are a part of is honestly interesting to you. If you feel like the work is boring, don’t fret, there are a few things you can do. Talk to your peers or people who have been doing what you are doing for longer than you. See how they deal with the problems you are facing. Try to find an aspect of work that you like being a part of. After all, you did join this firm for a reason, right?
And what has helped me most personally is trying to find creative solutions to old, boring problems. Utilizing that side of your brain for something that seems boring opens up an entirely new avenue of thought that is much less boring for you because you get personally involved in the process.
At the end of the day, you still might not have a perfect first few weeks since things can and do come up, but do not forget that the people you are working with have all been where you are before and are understanding of the issues. As long as you are willing to face them and work on them, there is no company that would not take you into being a part of their team.
Your job is to create solutions, not problems for the company. So go ahead, there is a world full of problems out there. Solve them!
This post was originally published at an earlier date.
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