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7 Tips for Succeeding in Your First Job Out of College

by Rebecca Acree, on Jan 13, 2020 12:00:00 PM

You’ve survived the interviews and exams, and you finally have both your diploma and a job offer in hand. Give yourself a pat on the back!

The hard work isn’t over yet, though. This next phase is a key turning point in your life, and it’s important to be prepared. Here are some tips on how to succeed in your first job out of college.

1. Come in with a plan

If you want to do well in your role, you’ll need to have a strategy. Some employers will provide you with benchmarks for success, but if yours doesn’t, create your own! What do you want to accomplish in the first 90 days of your new job, and how will you do it? What does the story of your success look like?

2. Perfect your elevator pitch

You may have already aced your interview, but that doesn’t mean you’re done pitching yourself. Whether you’re meeting your new colleagues for the first time or you’re angling for a promotion, you can use a 3-sentence story to make sure you’re heard. Be specific and detailed about what you’ve accomplished so far and what you will achieve next. Connect your past experiences to your future goals, and remember to let your authentic self shine through!

3. Focus on communication

Strong communication skills are essential to just about any role, but effective professional communication is a learned skill. It’ll take some getting used to, but remember that clarity and concision are key! Keep your communication precise and to the point, and know exactly what you’re going to say before you say it. If there’s something you don’t understand, don’t be afraid to ask questions.

4. Keep an eye out for a mentor

It’s impossible to overstate the value of a good mentor, especially for young professionals just starting out in their careers. As you get to know your organization, look out for other employees with careers that appeal to you. If anyone stands out or seems receptive, ask them out for coffee to discuss how they got to where they are today.

5. Ask for feedback

Even if your company doesn’t have a formal feedback structure, ask your manager to sit down with you for a review after a few months. Find out whether you’re meeting expectations, what you’re doing well, and where you could improve. Make a note of any praise you receive—this will be useful for future job searches. If there are areas where you aren’t quite meeting the mark, make sure you have a clear understanding of how you can do better.

6. Don’t get too comfortable

This is your first job, but it won’t be your last! It’s important to keep learning and improving every step of the way—it’ll make landing your next role much easier. Keep track of all your successes and continue to network, both within your company and without, so that you’re well-prepared when you’re ready to move on. Envision the story you want to tell at your next job interview and work backward from there.

7. Maintain perspective

Lastly, don’t forget to maintain a healthy perspective and keep your expectations in check. Entry-level jobs usually aren’t the most exciting or glamorous, and that’s okay! Think of this time as an opportunity to try new things, gain valuable skills, and learn about yourself. This is just the first chapter in the story of your career—you’re in control of what happens next!

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