Tips to ace that first job
You’ve picked your first outfit with care, bounced out of bed, and paced with determination to the train station. Arriving fifteen minutes early, you greet the receptionist with a self-conscious mix of apprehension and cheeriness. Welcome to your first job – here are some tips to get the most out of it.
1. First date, first job: Impressions are everything
We all know a good first impression is crucial for dates, but work is no exception. As a new hire, show off your best self by dressing appropriately. Each company has its own dress code, so style yourself according to its informal rules. Also, try arriving slightly early at work to help you adjust to the new office environment. It will naturally take you some time to get familiar with the culture of the company. Observe, be cheerful, and take notes during meetings and discussions. Your boss and colleagues will appreciate your enthusiasm for your new job.
2. Think before you speak
Aside from learning as much as possible, show your superiors how you are making a tangible contribution to the organisation. This boils down to the words and actions you take, as well as restrain from. Voicing your opinion during meetings may not always be substantial to the overall discussion. For clues on what is appropriate, observe the viewpoints of your colleagues. What matters most at work is being able to contribute efficiently, with the intention of keeping meetings short.
3. Beware of minefields
Many have perished in the name of office politics. While gingerly sidestepping this tricky terrain, you should also be aware of those jockeying for influence to better navigate through the workplace power structure. While aligning yourself with influential members might seem like a tempting way of increasing your personal credibility, remember that people come and go. Instead, try to learn and gain experience from your colleagues, no matter who they are.
4. Ask the right questions
Before beginning an assigned task, be sure to have your uncertainties clarified first. Seeking clarifications shows your superiors that you have mentally walked through the requirements, and have identified areas of potential concern. Also, actively seek feedback on the work you are delivering so you can find out specific things you need to improve on. Plus, it pays to be helpful. If there is a task at hand that has received little interest, why not volunteer to take it up? Once you succeed in the little tasks, it builds up your confidence to lead and succeed at the bigger tasks.
5. Build up your office (social) network
Get to know people in the office. Take the initiative to say hi to your colleagues, even in elevators. As colleagues tend to be busy on their own projects, they may not always have time for you, so seek them out by asking if they would like to have lunch together during the week. Through simple interactions, you’re on your way to build a network of trusted colleagues. Building rapport with your colleagues in other departments and not just your team, will allow you to keep abreast of developments across the company, giving you a more holistic view of your role within it.
6. Balance your core
Happy workers are productive workers. To make the most out your first job, you may, ironically, have to set boundaries for a good work-life balance. First, realise what you need to feel balanced, whether it is yoga sessions or music rehearsals with your band. While you would want to give your new job your all, do recognise that you need time to reflect and recharge, which means stepping back from work over the weekends and spending time with friends and family.
If you hit any setbacks, remember: this is only the beginning of your career. Finding out what you really like and want to do may take some time. Some of the most interesting people around still don’t know what they want to do at thirty-five! So stay focused on your goals. With perseverance, you’ll eventually get there, whether it is to run a global start-up, or make a difference in your local community. Good luck!