Securing your first work term is a great achievement and an important first step to your career development. It is also an excellent opportunity to make a positive impression that can lead to success in the workplace as well as making great professional connections. To make the most out of your first work term, consider these tips:
RESEARCH & REACH OUT
- Learn as much as you can about the role, the company, your boss, and your co-workers before your first day. You can do this through speaking with people you know, researching the company website, the news, LinkedIn etc
- Ensure you reach out to your immediate supervisor to introduce yourself prior to starting work. Confirm logistics such as: Location, start time, dress code, and emergency phone numbers.
- Give some thought to the skills and knowledge you are hoping to get out of the work term, how you can achieve this and who can best help you achieve your goals
TAKE TIME TO S.T.U.D.Y.
S = Survey your surroundings
T= Take the time to analyze and learn the most important things; company’s strategic plan, goals and objectives, structure, processes, current projects
U = understand the people situation: Who are the key resources? Who’s doing what?
D = Do not make hasty decisions. Being new means you will not yet understand the current situation, facts, or internal politics
Y = Yes you can! No matter how overwhelmed you feel in your new position –just take a deep breath, remain calm, stay focused, and prioritize, prioritize, prioritize
DEAL WITH AMBIGUITY
Ask questions to understand your role and how you will be evaluated. Learn the business, in and outside of the area/team you are working. Approach your supervisor to schedule a time where you might interview them to learn more about the company/industry/job. Be proactive as it is great to show initiative, but show some restraint. Humility plays as important a role as ambition.
EXHIBIT PROFESSIONAL BEHAVIOR
- How you answer the telephone, how you use email, and how you articulate your voice mail greeting are different from your personal accounts
- When leaving a message, ensure you state your name and contact information at the beginning and end of the short, concise message
- Perform menial tasks with enthusiasm to demonstrate your work ethic does not change depending on the task you are assigned
- Show respect for the corporate culture
- Become acquainted with colleagues, even those outside your peer group
RELATIONSHIP & IMPRESSION MANAGEMENT
- Remembering names is a very important business skill to master. Develop strategies to remember names.
- Learn what is normal in this particular workplace: work hours, coffee use, smoking, parking etc
- Try to avoid eating at your desk. Arrive early to work, ready to work, not to eat breakfast
- First impressions matter… and they last. Always dress professionally. It is better to overdress then to underdress
- Take initiative to ask for more work if you are not busy. Let people know your strengths and your willingness to assist
- Be keen. Don’t be the first one to leave at the end of the day. Always remember that even if this is not the job you want for a career, it is a stepping stone for you in terms of your resume, your skills and a reference
- 80% of success is attributed to simply showing up and giving 100%. When you commit to a goal, deadline, or say you are going to do something, ensure you meet those expectations
- Keep moving forward and do extras. Avoid excuses such as “I have no experience” or “I am a student”. For the duration of your work term, you are an employee of that company and should identify yourself as such
- Demonstrate that you are approachable and coachable. Being able to receive constructive feedback and use it to improve is an important skill to have
- After one month, take the initiative and request an informal review of your progress
- Start each day by writing down how you can contribute and what you hope to learn
- End the day by writing down what expected and unexpected progress you made and what you can do tomorrow