IN a few short months, millions of students across the globe will say goodbye to the protective walls of their secondary schools as they ready themselves to face the unchartered territory of life beyond those carefree school days. Some may continue their educational journeys by pursuing tertiary or undergraduate degrees, but for many, their professional careers begin immediately after secondary school. Naturally, such a time may be understandably intimidating. Although graduation is considered an exciting time for most people, it is often accompanied by many unsettling experiences. These include indecisiveness about career goals, the pressure to meet the expectation to become independent and nagging thoughts about whether the recently graduated student has been adequately prepared for the demands of employment. Having considered these challenges, this article will discuss some suggestions and advice for a new job.
Do your best.
To many, the age-old saying, “do your best” has become nothing more than a cliché. As with many clichés, there is some wisdom in accepting them. Just as a company builds and promotes its brand, so should you as an employee. A great way to do this is by fully devoting your energy to doing your best work and being your best self as you begin your professional career. Doing your best and building your brand is all encompassing. It includes showing up on time (keeping in mind that tardiness is a major concern for employers), exercising excellent work ethics, and going beyond the call of duty. Far from simply being the “goody two shoes” at your place of work, putting your best foot forward in your career sets you up for positive relationships with your employer and is a great steppingstone to achieving success in your future goals.
Go above and beyond the call of duty.
It has been established that going above and beyond the call of duty is an essential element of doing your best. This practice, however, warrants a separate discussion. Aside from the more obvious rewards of doing more than what your job description calls for, including promotions and salary increases, there are other benefits. Taking on additional tasks offers a great opportunity to develop new skills and to explore other areas which may later spark a career interest. Promotions and money are welcome additions to a person’s life, but developing new skills and discovering new interests are golden.
While the workplace may be the domain to shine as a career newbie, be warned that it can at times become a cesspool of unproductive gossip. Nevertheless, resist the urge to put in your “two cents.” It hinders productivity and further, you never know who is listening. It may be your boss, who may very well become the subject of discussion. Like most people, you would hate it if your words are misinterpreted, repeated and later used against you in the court of your boss’s office. Do yourself a favour: avoid gossip and do away with the drama.
Keep it professional.
Professionalism is an important factor that impacts your personal brand. Like doing your best work, staying professional is multifaceted. It involves mode of dress and a range of behavioral practices. It entails ensuring that personal attire is work appropriate, but more importantly ensuring that personal rivalries with other employees do not impede on productivity and professional relationships. Granted, misunderstandings and confrontations in the workplace are inevitable, but your response to these misunderstandings should always remain professional.
Be an observer.
It pays dividends to observe your company’s culture, coworkers and managers. Observing and realizing your company’s values, practices, or your boss’ pet peeves are crucial parts of becoming assimilated to a new work environment. It places an employee in a much better position to relate to co-workers and adjust comfortably to his or her environment.
Interacting with work colleagues offers a goldmine of networking opportunities. As a novice to your field or someone who may be undecided about his/her chosen career, networking offers the chance to gain feedback from more seasoned professionals who can offer valuable advice about a number of different areas. This may include advice about how to break into a particular field, or discussions about regrets that an individual has had regarding a chosen field (a great way to learn from others’ mistakes). Networking may also be an avenue to connect with professionals outside of your workplace and may set the pace for expanding your network, leading to even greater opportunities. Networking is the door to untold opportunities. Open it!
As you begin your new journey in your new job, be aware that although the suggestions discussed above may be helpful, experience will be your greatest teacher. It will reveal those lifesaving tips that transform you into an outstanding professional.