8 ways to succeed at your first job
The experience of moving from your carefree campus life to a professional at work can be quite daunting for many. Read on to find out how you can cope better. Illustrations by Uttam Ghosh
Campus life is carefree, with only the year-end exams instilling the fear of God!
But a job calls for both discipline and a mindset for learning; it's not just another step but a new phase in one's life.
Many may find that college doesn't remotely prepare you for life at work. Here are some tips to help you make the transition.
Please click NEXT to continue reading
How can young graduates cope with the demands of the first job? Share your advice on Rediff ZaraBol below!
Photographs: Gauri Nanda/Careers360
1. Be acceptable
Wear your best formal clothes on Day 1.
It's prudent to dress conservatively unless you are working in creative domains like advertising or design shops.
Observe how other people dress and do accordingly.
In India, managers usually take the new recruit on a walk-around introducing him/her to the members of the team s/he is assigned to work with.
Be pleasant and pay attention to the job description of your team members as well. It is advisable to come to your workstation and jot down the names as a memory aid.
2. Arrive early
During my first week, I observed that the manager came to work half an hour early.
I followed her cue and was at my desk by 9 a.m, whereas everyone else arrived by 9:30.
I used the time to prepare my action lists for the day in quiet before the phones started buzzing.
3. Mind your manners
In your first month, guard against any controversy.
Be polite and respectful to everyone.
Say "Hello" or "Good Morning" when your eyes meet any of your colleagues.
A genuine smile wins more friends.
Another poor habit is to stay on the cell phone for intolerably long lengths of time attending personal calls.
It's of prime importance to plan the day and have a 'daily to-do list'.
Keep ticking as you accomplish them.
The difference between completing a task on time and being reminded for being sloppy is a thin one.
The Microsoft Outlook Calendar integrates e-mails, contacts, and other features.
Use it effectively, to create appointments and events, organise meetings, form work groups, share presentations with colleagues and much more.
Teuxdeux.com is another great online application to help organise yourself.
5. Recognise that time building takes time
A major responsibility at my job was preparing questionnaires.
The first time I started drafting questionnaires, they were disasters -- too bookish and of little relevance to the brand under study.
My manager would tear them to shreds and come down heavily as he coached me.
My second attempt was better and by the third or fourth time, my skill was almost as good as his.
6. Be adaptable
The second trait at work is 'lifestyle'.
It would be criminal to wear starched whites when the place is teaming with people in faded jeans, Rajasthani slippers and ponytail.
Or vice versa too -- you may be too casual and the firm, a stickler for rules with little space for interactions.
Make the effort to get comfortable in your surroundings and with people, only then would others perceive you as 'one of them'.
7. Be cautious
There are two primary temptations to guard against.
One, cribbing about the boss or any colleague, is certain to boomerang.
Two, office PCs or laptops are not for personal surfing. Many have been sacked for visiting forbidden sites.
Rajiv Malhotra, 38, Vector Solutions in New York counsels, "These days systems administrators can track the websites visited and it would take a lot of explaining when caught!"
The first job offers an excellent ground to develop skills.
Two years of gritting at a place, making friends and winning respect will do wonders for one's career.
Well begun is half done really.
8. Some more tips
Good professional traits
- Being organised
- Hard work
- Creative/ strategic approach
Things you must do on your first week at work
- Wait for others in the lunch hour
- Leave office when your boss and team leave
- Be pleasant. Dissenting thoughts can be discussed later
- Don't show off or be overconfident