Thousands of college students and recent graduates will depart for their first internships or full-time employment once final exams and spring commencement ceremonies have concluded. You are lucky if you are one of them.
The job market is still not as good as it was pre-recession, but better than it has been in years. Here are some tips to help you make the most of your first job:
- 1. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Questions
- 2. Don’t “fake it until you make it.”
- 3. Find a Mentor
- 4. Never Eat Lunch Alone
- 5. Dress for Success
- 6. Serve Your Colleagues and Customers Well
- 7. Be a Team Player
- 8. Show Up On time
- 9. Stick to a Schedule
- 10. Be Professional
- 11. Don’t Let Your Personal Life Interfere with Your Job
- 12. Be Willing to Work Hard
- 13. Don’t Be Afraid to Make Mistakes
- 14. Make the Most of Your First Job
1. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Questions
Your supervisors and colleagues want you to succeed and will be more than happy to help you out, but you have to be willing to ask for help when you need it. No one will think less of you for admitting that you don’t know something or need assistance with a task – on the contrary, they will respect you for being proactive in ensuring that you are able to do your job to the best of your ability.
2. Don’t “fake it until you make it.”
Trying to act like you know what you’re doing when you don’t is a recipe for disaster. Not only will you likely end up making mistakes, but you will also lose the respect of your colleagues and supervisors. It’s okay to admit that you are still learning and need guidance – that’s what your first job is all about.
3. Find a Mentor
A mentor is someone who can offer you advice and guidance, help you navigate the politics of your workplace, and be a sounding board for your ideas. Having a mentor is invaluable, especially in your first job when you are still learning the ropes.
If you don’t have a formal mentorship program at your workplace, take the initiative to reach out to someone who you admire and respect and ask if they would be willing to serve as your mentor.
4. Never Eat Lunch Alone
In addition to being a great way to make friends, lunchtime is also an opportunity to network. Get to know your colleagues and build relationships that can help you both professionally and personally. You never know when one of your lunch buddies will end up being a valuable connection down the road.
5. Dress for Success
Your first job is your chance to make a good impression on your employer and lay the foundation for a successful career. Make sure that you dress appropriately for the workplace – no one expects you to break out the business suits on your first day, but you should also avoid wearing anything that would be considered too casual or revealing. When in doubt about what to wear, it’s better to err on the side of being too fancy than too casual.
6. Serve Your Colleagues and Customers Well
If you want to earn the respect of your colleagues and customers, you need to provide excellent service. Go above and beyond what is expected of you, and always be polite and professional. Remember, the way you treat others reflects on you and your employer – so make sure that you are always putting your best foot forward.
7. Be a Team Player
No one likes a know-it-all or a prima donna, so make sure that you are always willing to lend a helping hand and be a team player. Collaborate with your colleagues, and be open to their suggestions and feedback. By working together, you can accomplish great things.
8. Show Up On time
Punctuality is a valuable asset in the workplace, so make sure that you are always on time for your shifts and meetings. If you are running late, call ahead to let your employer or colleagues know – they will appreciate the courtesy.
9. Stick to a Schedule
Part of being a professional is being able to manage your time effectively. Create a schedule for yourself and make sure that you stick to it. This will help you stay organized and on track, and ensure that you are using your time in the most productive way possible.
10. Be Professional
This includes everything from being punctual and attending all of your scheduled shifts to refraining from using profanity or engaging in gossip at work. You want your employer to see you as a reliable and respected member of the team, so always conduct yourself in a professional manner.
11. Don’t Let Your Personal Life Interfere with Your Job
Your employer is not interested in hearing about your latest breakup or family drama – they are only concerned with whether or not you can do your job. Keep your personal life separate from your work life and refrain from discussing anything too personal with your colleagues.
12. Be Willing to Work Hard
No one expects you to work 24/7, but your first job is an opportunity to show your employer that you are a dedicated and hardworking employee. Go the extra mile when possible and put in the extra effort to get the job done right.
13. Don’t Be Afraid to Make Mistakes
Everyone makes mistakes, but it’s how you react to them that counts. If you do make a mistake, own up to it and take steps to ensure that it doesn’t happen again in the future. Your employer will respect your honesty and integrity and will be more likely to trust you with additional responsibility in the future.
14. Make the Most of Your First Job
Your first job is an important step on the road to your career, so make sure that you make the most of it. Use this opportunity to learn as much as you can, build positive relationships with your colleagues, and develop the skills and experience that you will need to succeed in your future endeavors.
With a positive attitude and a willingness to work hard, you can make your first job an enjoyable and rewarding experience.