Up until 17 business days ago, my resume was exclusively filled with college clubs, restaurant jobs, and babysitting gigs. Although I have learned a lot in those environments, not many applied to my newest daily grind. For those of you in the same situation, here is a list of things I learned from my first 9 to 5. For those of you who already went through it, let this blog post remind you of your first three weeks at a new job. I am by no means an expert, just a newbie sharing my experience. (Disclaimer: I work at The Mentor Method-- where we focus on 21-27 year old career building, so I spend a good part of my day writing, listening to, and planning advice-- so it’s lead to a goldmine of lessons).
1. Get up early-- if you’re anything like me you sleep until you HAVE to get up (like 7:47am for your 8am class). I have seen a total change in my morning energy by extending the time between when I wake up and when I arrive at work. I have found that waking up at 6:30 for my 9 am job really boosts my morning productivity. Learn more about waking up here.
2. Dress to impress-- this means something different for anyone in any field but wear something that makes you feel good (& make sure it fits the workplace culture). Confidence is everything, so dressing up helps me to feel my best and be ready for the day. For me, it’s about how I feel, not necessarily how I look. The Wall Street Journal has noticed a new trend in women's workplace wear.
3. Get to know your co-workers-- Lunch is so much better when you can spend it laughing with your new friends. Getting to know my two closest co-workers has made me excited to come in for the day and not feel weird when I ask them for advice. We can go from chatting about reality TV on our lunch break to strategizing world domination in a matter of minutes. If you need help with that, check this out.
4. Say hi-- this applies to your boss, co-workers, and the random food delivery person who seems to come daily. It is not only respectful to your boss to always greet them, but it helped me to start a dialogue with my boss that feels friendly and not as intimidating. Learn more about saying hello from Forbes here.
5. Be honest-- if something is too much, or not enough, tell your supervisor. Everyone works at a different pace, so something that I might take 10 minutes to do may take someone else 30 minutes. I have found that being open about how long it takes me to get my work done has led to a comfortable flow of work that doesn’t leave me bored or drowning.
6. Speak up about your interests-- if there is something you find really interesting and it can be integrated into your job, tell your boss. It’ll boost your productivity and you’ll feel way more satisfied. For example, if my job involves writing content and I will write random pieces about things I find interesting. My boss might say no, or feel it is not right for the work image, but chances are my boss will appreciate the work and I’ll have more opportunities to do work like it.
7. Check in with yourself-- honestly evaluate how you are performing at your job and how you like it. Both are important. Take those evaluations and apply them. They only can help as much as you use them. I try to think about how my week went every Friday and make goals to complete for the following week. Learn how here.
8. Make lists-- write down everything you need to do in a day, whether it is a post-it schedule or an excel spreadsheet, it will help keep you on pace. I love nothing more than crossing things off my list, the feeling of accomplishment makes me way more productive. If you love pen and paper, treat yourself to a new agenda-- I personally love the ones at Target.
9. Coffee-- this one doesn’t need an explanation, especially if it is free.
10. Have your game face on-- you’re new, that comes with grunt work and sometimes the stuff that no one else wants to spend time on. Do it, do it well, and do it with positive energy. This may mean pushing myself and that is okay, I’ve found that when I work hard, good things often come my way.
11. Don’t be afraid to try something new-- for example; I’ve never written before, now look at me. If you take on two challenges, you can either excel, fail or fall somewhere in between. There is no harm in trying.
12. Be yourself-- you got hired because of who you are. Being authentic is key to thriving. I still highlight certain attributes that make me a better employee but I am not scared that I will be judged or treated differently because of my personality-- and you shouldn’t either. Check out Harvard’s how to here.
13. Ask questions-- this is so important. I always make sure that I am asking informed questions that will really further my understanding and try not pester my supervisor with eighteen thousand emails a day about silly, little things. However, sometimes I do 18 thousand things in one day and literally feel like they all need answers from my boss, so it can be helpful to start an email in the beginning of the day and add to as the day goes. I wait to send it until I have added all of my questions to the email, this way it is not a flurry of disorganized emails all day. Monster can teach you how here. You can also check out TMM Mentor Adrienne for more advice.
14. Do your research-- know your company, know your boss, and know your roll. This will show your new boss that you are dedicated and determined to the company. It takes time to study so prioritize getting to know what it is you are representing. It also helps if you are like me and present your company to others constantly. Being able to summarize The Mentor Method in a sentence or two is vital to my job and would be impossible without understanding the company.
15. Always be ready to network-- you are now representing more than yourself, you are part of the public face of your company. Remember to promote a positive self image and be on the lookout for new connections in your industry. Harvard gives from helpful tips how here.
16. Follow up-- it's never rude to send a reminder, so get busy sending your follow up email, post, and note by pigeon. I have found this to be somewhat awkward but it gets less so with each time, so keep at it! Get a how to from Grammarly here.
*bonus tip* HAVE FUN! This is 40 odd hours of your week; enjoy what you are doing and stay positive, it will make you a better employee and reduce the stress in your life. And because the internet has everything, here is a service that will help you find fun things!
Thank you all for reading and I hope that this list helps you in your first seventeen days or reminds you what your were like.
For extra points, comment one thing you learned in your early days on the job and how it has helped you!