You’ve made it! It’s your first job after graduating, and now you’re expected to act like a grown up. In some ways, you may feel like a fraud, still a student, just better dressed. Here’s the deal—unless you’re a doctor, engineer, or in another profession where calculations are critical, your new company doesn’t really care what your grades were. It’s true that grades are a reflection of your effort and ability, but what’s important now is your grit, your ability to dive in, learn, and get back up when you make a mistake.
1. Ask questions!
You may be inclined to listen and be quiet. You may not want to bring too much attention to yourself. That’s just fine, but asking questions is critical. You’re not expected to know the what/how/when of the business. The important thing is to be a sponge. Also, don’t act like you know the answer. We can see through that. We’re not concerned that you don’t know the answer. We’re only concerned you won’t be willing to learn. And, if you aren’t brave enough to ask questions, learning will take you a really long time.
2. At this point, your job is to make your boss’s job easier.
If you’re making excuses and/or not contributing, your manager will hear about it and that will make his or her life more difficult. Anticipate what he or she needs and send it before it’s requested. Proactively provide a weekly report. This will keep you on track too.
3. Don’t hide.
Everyone needs to decompress sometimes, but you should engage with peers and people in other departments. When you see them in the halls, greet them by name. Consider the rule that you won’t eat alone more than three days a week. Even if you bring your lunch (which is admirable!), sit with people in the cafeteria or outside.
4. Bring positive energy.
Don’t be lethargic. We all have days where we’d rather be somewhere else, but for the most part, be conscious of the type of energy you bring to calls, meetings, and conversations.
5. Develop your personal brand/reputation.
Since you’re fresh on the job, you have a somewhat clean slate. Who are you? What do you want people to think of you? Just as different colas have brands, people have a personal brand. Think of friends or mentors. What is their brand? What resonates when you think of them or hear their name? Are they reliable? Trustworthy? Hard working? Authentic? Everyone has a brand they develop and need to maintain. Just like a product, once the brand is tarnished, it’s very difficult (but not impossible) to repair. What do you want people to think of when they hear your name? What will be your brand or reputation?
6. Keep your personal excuses in check.
Make as few excuses as possible. If you use one, it had better be authentic. Being both reliable and dependable is critical. When you do have a valid excuse for being late (like a flat tire), acknowledge that you inconvenienced people and apologize.
7. Never gossip, whine, or complain.
If there is an issue, bring it up and offer a possible solution. Gossip is never okay. If you talk about someone, the person receiving the information will assume you will talk about him or her too. Gossip breaks down trust on all fronts.
8. If you’re late for a deadline, let them know in advance.
Don’t just apologize. Acknowledge the inconvenience you’ve caused the other person. Don’t simply send the report in late. Proactively communicate: “If it’s okay with you, my report will be two hours late today because I want to get you the most accurate data, and I’m waiting on final numbers.” Later, follow up with a note: “The report is attached. Thank you for your patience.”
9. That awkward hallway march.
Eventually a long hallway will separate you from a coworker. He’ll be too far away to talk with just yet, so you’ll walk toward each other for fifteen to twenty seconds. This can be uncomfortable and awkward to cope with. Being in corporate America for close to twenty-five years, I’ve seen it all. Some people look at you the entire time. I find that slightly creepy. Some people look at you and then away; once you approach, they pretend to suddenly notice you and say hello abruptly. Some people look down at their phones and pretend they’re very busy and important. Here’s what I would suggest. Look at them, make good eye contact, and then look away for a while. When they’re close, make genuine eye contact again and state their name in your greeting. This is your opportunity to show confidence, make an impression, and be remembered. Don’t hide behind your phone or slink.
10. Be on time.
Scratch that. Arrive a minute early.
You’ve got this:
A company or organization is investing in you. Show them they made a great choice!
Dina Mauro has worked in the technology industry for over twenty-five years, twenty with one of the largest IT companies in the world. Through her love for animals, Dina began rescuing dogs, volunteering, and, ultimately, writing.
Dina is the author of A Dose of Tia: How a Woman and Her Rescued Dog Embraced Life Through Volunteering – and How You Can, Too. Initially, as a personal, heartfelt gift to her sons, but later published for the public, Dina went on to pen You’ve Got This! The Grad’s Guide to the Big, Rich, Magnificent Life You Deserve.
She also volunteers at Denver Pet Partners, Swedish Medical Center, and Children’s Hospital Colorado, along with her three sons.
Dina lives in Denver with her husband, Bob, and their three sons, Owen, Ethan, and Aiden.
ABOUT YOU'VE GOT THIS!
As a parent, author Dina Mauro was so hyper-focused on competing and comparing her children to other children that she almost lost sight of what they required to thrive. She realized that when they thrive, everything in their lives falls abundantly into place.
You’ve Got This! The Grad’s Guide to the Big, Rich, Magnificent Life You Deserve steers the reader through critical “markers” along life’s way: improving oneself, conquering obstacles, achieving goals, and cultivating relationships. Other stops on the journey include heading off to college, entering the work world, making decisions, managing technology, speaking in public, and many more.
You’ve Got This! is a long-overdue guidebook that illuminates forty-seven achievable strategies and real-world advice for not just living—but thriving! Now grads have the roadmap for facing challenges that left untouched can become big distractions to an exceptional life.