So, you’ve made it. You’ve gotten through the grueling application process wherein you essentially throw out cover letters into the wind praying someone, somewhere picks one up and actually cares enough to read through it. You’ve gotten through the interview process wherein you’ve toiled over what to wear (you’re sure that some outfit or another will be the winning combination of commanding yet humble – they would be fools not to hire you based on your shrewd outfit choice alone). You’ve experienced the unparalleled thrill of receiving that glorious job offer email wherein you feel that you have finally been given everything you need to combat all impending doom (aka, the responsibilities of adult life).
But…then there’s that pesky part about actually having to perform to the best of your abilities and secure your place among the ranks of functioning society.
Now, in order to do this, one must make sure that they stand out in this position. While being at the bottom of the totem pole may seem like a good excuse to do the bare minimum or to shrug your shoulders at requests, commenting “that’s above my pay grade,” please refrain.
This job will lay the foundation for your career, not only developing your work ethic and methodologies, but in your overall attitude and the professional connections you make.
What are some of the best ways to go about ensuring you put your career on track early?
- Continuing earning this opportunity – and more will come
Every day should be a chance for you to prove all over again that your company made a great decision in hiring you. If you consistently put your best foot forward, showing that you deserve to be here, and make yourself indispensible, you are going to be the first person that your higher ups think of when they are delving out new responsibilities (and promotions!).
- Connect and network with your co-workers
Whether or not they are in your department, connecting with co-workers is a great way to not only get a full understand of your company’s structure (and the roles everyone plays), but a great way to get the most out of co-workers when collaborating on a project. If you are the person everyone wants to work with, you’re in a great position!
- Be confident in the value of what you have to say
Expressing your ideas is a fantastic way to get noticed. Don’t feel that because you are new or because you are a subordinate that you don’t have anything to contribute to a meeting or a project. Companies are always looking for fresh perspectives and exciting new ventures. Even if they don’t accept your idea this time, you have established yourself as somehow who will speak their mind and provide options – and this is huge!
- Keep track of your successes and professional growth
Every experience is a learning experience, and this is certainly true within the workplace. Take time each week to record to new skills you learned whether it’s an accounting procedure or how to better advocate for yourself in a meeting with a superior. Not only will this bolster your confidence regularly, but it will certainly come in handy during performance reviews.
- Remember – you are always learning
Be on the look-out for opportunities to expand your knowledge. Many times, companies will support (and even compensate) employees attending classes to learn skills that will positively impact their job performance. Even if you don’t necessarily want to attend a class, self-teaching yourself any skills that helps your job is a great way to demonstrate our commit and interest in your job and in the company.
- Remember – everyone else is always learning too
What’s better than you taking it upon yourself to expand your knowledge – offering to expand the knowledge of others! See if there are any opportunities to conduct trainings or seminars for fellow employees. Not comfortable with anything that formal? Make it clear to everyone that you are willing to stop by and give them a one-on-one tutorial for a professional skill you know really well.
- Don’t be afraid to ask about where you’re going within the company
While some people may be afraid to speak up regarding their interest in learning about opportunities for growth, this is so essential to job satisfaction and overall happiness. Feeling like you have a clear vision of your career goals and the necessary steps to get there is such a strong source of motivation. Having that conversation with your superior also helps them to understand your career goals within the company, which then allows them the chance to act as a mentor – providing you with the opportunities and responsibilities that will better prepare you for the position you have your eye on. Be sure to understand during this conversation, however, that hard work will be necessary to elevate. The conversation will not be the career clarity you are looking for if you use an entitled or presumptuous approach. Make your enthusiasm for the company and the potential to grow within evident.
- Don’t let setbacks bog you down
Not every single work day is going to go your way. Obstacles arise, monkey wrenches get thrown into plans, and mistakes get made. This is natural and, unfortunately, unavoidable. But it’s the way that we react and bounce back from these setbacks that really show the type of professional we are. Pushing past the boundaries, carving out paths around the mountainous obstacles, is key to establishing a professional who is going somewhere. Resiliency is a noticeable and desired trait for executive positions that will make you shine come promotion time.
Entry-level positions should be taken as they are named: entry. This is your grand entrance. This is your first impression upon the professional world. When contemplating all the time and energy spent obtaining the position in the first place, now that you have it, do something with it! Make this your time. You will surprise yourself by how much control you have over what is made of this opportunity. Own it and there will be no stopping you!
Curt Canada – Board Certified Coach provides advisement and support in life, career, and leadership in Washington DC.