Surviving the Milestones of Your First Job

surviving-milestones-new-jobCongratulations! Your job search has yielded a great result and you’ve landed your first full-time paying job after you’ve graduated. You’re all set and raring to blaze a trail of glory at your new workplace, but wait a minute, why are you made to do simple, even menial tasks during your first few days? How will you survive a month at work, or even a year? Read on to learn how to survive the common milestones that your first job will present to you. Your first week – Stay calm in your orientation

• Arrive early

Always remember the duration it takes to get from your home to work as you do not want to offer an excuse for arriving late for work to your new boss in your first professional conversation with him or her.

• Prepare your introduction

Your new colleagues will want to know who the new colleague who’s joined them is like. Think beyond “Hi, my name is…” as building rapport as early on in your job will contribute to the first impression that they have of you.

• Ask questions, even if they sound stupid

Entry-level employees tend to let their co-workers speak and direct them around. In fact, many entry-level workers will tend to keep quiet at their desk or cubicle for the first few weeks before having a meaningful conversation with others. However, in order to understand how things happen at work, questions will need to be asked. Don’t be shy to use that as an excuse for a query that may sound silly.

• You’re on your own

There will be no teacher, lecturer or counselor to feed you with information and tell you want to do at work. Your successes and failures will be all your own, and so actively network with co-workers, vendors and clients, seek out and recognise opportunities to achieve your targets/objectives and take your career into your own hands.

• Listen well and remember names

There is a lot to absorb during your first week at work, so if you have a tendency to be distracted, try to stay focused on the people who are trying to teach you something by being alert.

Make an effort to use your co-workers’ names as soon as they introduce themselves, especially with phrases like “Nice to meet you, Peter” and “So what do you do around here, Mary?” Many will be impressed with a person who remembers their names in a flash.

Your probation months – The real work begins!

• The inevitable landslide of work

In many companies, the first few months on the job are probation periods for you to impress your new higher ups. So once you get the idea of how things are done around at work, your workload and responsibilities will increase. Don’t expect your work to be perfect even at this point, but show your boss you’re aware of it and clarify vague areas as soon as possible.

• Avoid office gossip, but stay friendly

Being a relative newcomer to the office, you won’t be sure who the resident office snitch or complain king/queen is. Freeze your personal opinions and comments about your colleagues when someone tries to bring you into their gossip circle – not only does gossip kill careers, it is also a drain on energy.

• Build relationships

On the other hand, there is nothing wrong with spending a few minutes daily to connect with non-work related talk with your co-workers. Remember that building relationships in the workplace can be a major factor in contributing to your career success. Be willing to work with each of your co-workers and concentrate on their positive qualities. Communicate concerns and challenges tactfully.

Most importantly, the relationship you have with your supervisor can affect what happens to you during your first year. Aim to see your supervisor as an ally rather than a demanding enemy. He or she will not be your friend, but someone who will train and develop you.

• Stay organized

The best way to blend into the workplace culture is to see how others organize their areas. If very few people place personal items such as photo frames or mementoes on their desk, don’t display your holiday souvenirs on yours. Stay orderly at work to show your ability to manage your workload.

• Stay sharp-looking

It can be difficult to place a huge importance on image once you start working, especially for those with a penchance for rebelliousness in school. At work, many important first impressions that you make will be based on your appearance. Your image – whether you like it or not – will affect how you are viewed within your company, by your clients or other companies. Many organizations take image-building seriously so your personal look should not be treated lightly if you notice all of your co-workers dressing up daily.

Your first year – Newbie no more

• Pay attention to details

Like a house of cards, success takes hard work to build, but it only takes a quick nudge to send it crashing down. After a year on the job, tasks may seem easier to handle, but mistakes can sometimes take on a huge impact in an instant. Sometimes it can just take an accidental click of the “Reply All’ button in your email to send out wrong or confidential emails to the entire company instead of just replying to one of your colleagues.

• The learning continues

A year on, things may become comfortable and you may stick to the projects and tasks that you’re confident of executing perfectly. However, this fear of taking on other challenges is likely to stunt your career growth. In order to move forward, you may encounter failure, but success comes from failure anyway, so aim for ‘progress’ and not ‘perfection.’ Your higher ups will still notice your initiative to take the next step.

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