Thursday, April 26, 2012

Negotiating the First Year of Rest of Your Professional Life

By Max Gompertz, senior communication and psychology major at CU-Boulder

While the transition from student to employee is undoubtedly a difficult one, some simple tips can make the shift much less intimidating.  These pointers will help you navigate the first year of professional employment.  Instead of allowing negative feelings like anxiety, uncertainty, or doubt to preoccupy you on the first day of the rest of your life, take advantage of this straightforward advice to keep calm and carry on.

Get Ready

1)   Review:  Look over the literature that you likely received when you were hired for the job.  Information about vacation time, sick days, and payment methods specific to the company will be included, and is expected to be common knowledge among all employees.  Asking questions for which you were already provided the answer will make you look irresponsible and unorganized in the employer’s eyes, so read up beforehand!
2)   Dress:  …to impress! Employers like to see employees who respect and enjoy their job.  Spend some time at a local suit vendor to select clothes that fit right, look professional and make you feel confident.  Confidence is the key to establishing yourself as a valuable addition to the company.

Get Set
3)   Get Organized:  Taking notes on your first day will make you look sharp, organized and motivated.  This will set a great foundation for you to begin your new job, and you’ll impress your superiors!  Although note taking may occur more often in college than in the corporate world, continuing this good habit throughout your life will put you a step ahead of your coworkers as well as help you focus and better understand what is expected of you.
4)   Attitude:  During the first weeks of employment, anything can happen… so be prepared.  As noted in McGill University’s Career Planning Service, it is crucial to be “positive and flexible” during your first year of employment.  Since your workflow probably won’t become concrete for the first few weeks, volunteering to help with whatever you can and exuding a positive attitude will make you stand out amongst other employees.
5)   Initiative:  Make a point to introduce yourself to coworkers.  Rather than waiting for other employees to introduce themselves, be outgoing and take the initiative to begin the introduction. Not only should you apply this to peers and coworkers, but McGill University also recommends that you “get to know your boss.” This advice may seem like a no-brainer, however, getting to know your boss is one of the best ways to get recognized internally and move up at a company.
6)   Attention:  Don’t overlook any details during your first year on the job.  Your superiors will be carefully checking your work, so it’s important to be careful not to miss anything.  Make sure you dot your I’s and cross your T’s if you want to find success during the first year of your new job.


7)   Culture:  As highlighted by the University of Missouri Career Center, be sure to “learn the organizational culture” at your new job.  Employees who understand the management styles and reward mechanisms their employers use will be more likely to benefit than those who don’t take the time to understand the company culture.
8)   Position:  Employees are encouraged to “learn their place” in order to make the biggest impact on their company’s profitability.  The connotation here is not one of penalty or ability, but rather, refinement and productivity.  In college, we were taught to speak up, but make sure you pause and think before doing so.  It is not to say that companies or employers do not value your opinion, but you must be careful not to waste their time on redundancies or trivialities.  Therefore, know your position and what contributions are expected of you.

Additional information can be found on these sites: