My first year out of college in the working world was filled
with the highest or highs and lowest of lows. I was not anticipating how the
transition to new state, a new town, a new company, and a new job would challenge
me as much as I did.
At one point, I truly
felt I was drowning at work. But as I learned the corporate culture, got
the hang of my job, and became comfortable in my sales territory, my job became
So today, I’m passing
on some advice to help you in the workplace. These are a few of the lessons
I’ve learned these first few years out of college.
If you’ve recently graduated and joined the working world (or about to join), this post is for you.
Here are 6 pieces of professional advice for graduates out there:
1. Be Coach-able
As you enter a new company, a new team, and a new role,
you’ll be responsible for learning how to perform in these new environments.
Depending on your team, you may have some time to come down the learning curve or
you’re thrown into a sink or swim environment. Regardless of how your workplace
is, one of the easiest ways to ease your journey down the learning curve is to
Your team, manager, and other peers are more likely to help you
and work with you if you maintain a positive attitude and show you are willing
to learn how to perform in the role.
2. Ask for Help
If you are new to a team and organization, it’s okay that
you don’t know how to do specific process or task at first. Not knowing how to
churn out your groups finance charts or negotiate with your supplier does not
make you incompetent, especially if you just started your entry level role.
These things are learned on the job and with the help of your team and manager.
Ask your mentor, peers, or manager for help when you run
into troubles understanding the processes. For questions about how your team
fits in the bigger picture or the strategy of your business, ask your manager.
For questions about day to day tasks, ask your lead or teammates. It may take a
few times to get familiar with tasks and processes, so make sure you take
plenty of notes.
Also, if you get to the point where you are
stretched too thin and are unable to balance competing priorities, speak up and
ask your manager for help.
3. Figure Out Where You Add Value & Impact
Yes you are learning a new role but remember you are coming
to your team with a hosts of skills and experiences.
Are you an excel whiz? Can
you see any processes where your team can automate reports instead of do
Are you comfortable giving presentations? Do you see any
opportunities on your team to get up in front of leadership?
Being new also means you bring a new perspective. Do you see
opportunities for your team to expand their business outside their current
region? Do you think your team can be marketing to other groups of customers?
Don’t be afraid to express your perspective a new pair of fresh eyes.
4. Learn How to Give & Receive Feedback
Feedback is a skill – learning how to give and receive
feedback is important for career growth. When you first start working, feedback
is a way to check if you’re performing or not in your job.
Feedback can be
formal as a once a week one on one meeting with your manager. Feedback can be
as informal as asking your co-workers to run through your presentation before
you present to leadership.
Advice: I recommend at least setting up time for feedback on a
weekly basis when you’re first getting started. I’ve also been in roles were my
manager and I had 30, 60, and 90 day reviews. These set times for reviews
served as a platform for how I was performing against my team and peers.
More advice: The key to helpful feedback is to keep it constructive and assess
the situation so you know what to ask for or what type of feedback to give.
According to Harvard Business Review, there are different types of advice and
feedback: discrete advice, counsel, coaching, and mentoring. At some point of
your new job, you’ll need to ask for or even give this type of feedback. (Source– there’s a great graphic that shows the type, activities, and examples!)
5. Set Goals
Goal setting can be as simple or as complicated as you want
them. You’ll be more likely achieve your goals though if you set an attainable
amount – 1-3 new goals a quarter may work for you for instance.
One way I set
goals is I ask myself a series of questions:
Where do I want to be in 3 months in this role? In 6 months?
In a year? What type of skills do I want to learn from this job? What type of
impact do I want to bring to my team?
6. Be Open to Change
Just because you agree to a specific statement work does not
mean that will be the only statement of work you perform. The truth is teams
rebalance, people leave, new people come on, and organizational change happens.
Your statement of work may inevitably change with time.
My advice is to look at new projects and work as an opportunity
to build yourself up even more. All the work experience you get early on your
career can only help you with future opportunities.
For instance, I worked in finance for a year and got to take some of
the development classes offered at my company. I enjoyed the classes so much
that I ask to volunteer to hosts future classes for new employees. An
opportunity to be a facilitator for the Northwest classes came up and I was
asked to move into the role. Now outside my normal statement of work, I get to
arrange these development classes for new employees!
What advice would you give new professionals?
Thank you for reading!
Photos: Miriam Subbiah