Your First Job

You will graduate and leave behind the daily grind of attending classes, writing papers and getting graded by semester. This is an exciting time and also a very new transition. What are the expectations for your first post-graduate opportunity?

For the first 3-6 months, you will be doing work with guidance from your supervisor. Listen more than you talk. Take advantage of your one-one meetings with your boss and be open and receptive to feedback. Ask questions such as:

What are your expectations of me? Do you think I am learning the skills I will need in order to accomplish this? Where should my focus be right now? How am I doing? Establish a perfect attendance record

  • Prepare for meetings, always do your best work and show up on time.
  • Get to know your coworkers. What do they do each day and how could you support each other’s work?
  • Communicate openly and with a positive attitude. Assume the best of others and ask direct questions with curiosity: “Hey, I have a quick question about x thing. I want to make sure I understand my role. Can we chat about it before the end of the day?”
  • Avoid office gossip. Look for the best in others and always act and speak with helpful intent.
  • Find a mentor by interacting with colleagues in your office who have experienced success at work. You will naturally gravitate to some more than others. Ask them if you could meet for lunch on occasion.
  • Reach out to peers who have the same or similar roles and ask them for advice. Include questions about how long it took them to feel as if they grasped the role, extra training they did or things they think you could work on. They have wisdom to share that will benefit your performance.
  • Stay focused on your work. Try to keep your personal business to a minimum (checking personal social media accounts, making dinner reservations, buying things online, etc.).
  • Set and accomplish realistic goals. Run everything by your supervisor so you can feel confident initiating your own projects and contributing as only you can with your unique blend of talents.
  • Track your accomplishments and continue adding to your resume. Generally, people accept you leaving your first job if you have given at least 18 months. This means you made it through at least one review cycle and accomplished something valuable.

As a final note, always remember that you are now representing yourself as a professional. Your industry is smaller than you might think and your reputation is crucial to allowing yourself to be open for future opportunities. Be positive about your work and organization. Avoid office gossip. Always look for the best in your colleagues and act and speak with helpful intent. A reputation for working hard and being kind to others will serve you well the rest of your life.