After working all through school, researching your options, applying, and interviewing, you have finally landed your first corporate job. If you land a job immediately right after graduation, then appreciate this opportunity that only 47% of graduates enjoy.
The work has just begun and there is a lot more to maximizing the potential of your first job opportunity than the job description implies. Becoming an active member of your company and laying the foundation for more opportunities requires a game plan and focus. The following tips will help you make the most out of your first corporate job.
- Don’t be Afraid to ask Questions
A good student asks questions but deciding which questions to ask, to whom and when can be daunting. Many rookie employees at a company may feel bashful about asking how the company is set up, what departments are answerable to whom and the arrangement of the system generally. Many new workers feel that this information may seem overly basic and something they should already know or is somehow not their business. Get to know the corporate structure of your company. Once you have this understanding, other things will make sense.
- Earn a Reputation for Hard Work
Working hard is one thing. Earning a reputation for being a hard worker is another. If you are going to put extra time and full energy into a project, ensure that people notice. This means being the first one at the office and the last one to leave if you can manage it. Being a hard worker can help people overlook mistakes that new employees will inevitably make, particularly recent graduates. Work and effort communicate that you appreciate your job and you will deserve appreciation in return.
- Make Time for Networking
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that your networking days are over once you have already landed a corporate job. Even if you love your job, you may find a more lucrative opportunity or one that is a better fit in a year or less. According to the U.S. Department of Labor Statistics, 53% of all graduates leave their first job within a year. Think of networking as an ongoing process, not as an emergency move. Rushed networking looks desperate, and relaxed networking gives the impression that you get plenty of offers.
- Stay Organized
You may have had classes at 8 am or had the luxury of rolling out of bed at 10 am for your first class at 11, but even the earliest rising student will find actual 9 to 5 work obligations a major change from student life. Since you are trying to prove yourself on the job, you may find that you are working more than 8 hours a day. Without focus and a schedule, time can seem to slip away, and before long, it can seem you are only traveling to and from work and working with no time for shopping, cleaning your apartment, and exercising. Planning a schedule and sticking to it is essential for making sure you have a life beyond work and that you can focus on your job.
- Learn New Skills
You do not stop learning when you land your first job. This is where the real learning begins. If you feel the job you have landed is the pathway to a new career, learn as much as you can about the jobs those higher up are doing. What kind of skills will you need to do those tasks that you don’t have now? How can you gain those skills? Is there a class you could take? Could you learn the ropes? Think of your next step and master the skills you need to get there.
- Find a Mentor
We spend so much time at work that we are bound to have things to discuss. But who can we discuss them with? Co-workers may be competitive and too risky. Friends may do all they can to keep their eyes from glazing over if they are not interested in our field. To bounce things off of someone who understands our experiences and can give guidance, it is important to find a mentor. This is true whether you are entry-level or a CEO.
- Move on If You Need to
If you get another offer or find an ideal opportunity, don’t worry about moving on if this is truly the best option. Once you have done a cost-benefit analysis and it shows that finding another opportunity is the best move, go forward with no regrets. Although make sure your relationship with your former employer is such that he or she will gladly give a reference for you if needed.
An Important First Step
The job you get after college can determine the path of your career. Then again, you can take an entirely different road with a new opportunity. Whichever path you take, learning from real-life work experience is as essential as your coursework was as a student. Learn the ropes, manage your time well, and keep networking. If you enjoy your first job, you may find it is the beginning of a fulfilling career.