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How to SUCCEED at your first job
S Priya Ramesh
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July 31, 2007

Vidyut has been dreaming of the day he begins his first job ever since his school days. While watching his cousins and friends enter the job market, Vidyut has been patiently waiting his turn.

Now that the big day has finally arrived, Vidyut (like most freshers) is unsure of how to behave at his new workplace. He wants to make a good impression and use the opportunity to grow professionally, but he doesn't know how. To help him, and others like him, here are some guidelines on how to make your first job a memorable learning experience.

Getting started
College days are all about 'chilling out' and 'taking it easy', but at the workplace, this attitude is taboo. View your work as worship. Take an interest in your company's mission and objective, the goals of your team, organisational structure and adopt a serious attitude towards work. Learning the mission and vision of your company could be the first step, followed by your group's tasks or activities.

Understand your role and responsibilities
Having understood the big picture of your organisation, the next step is to understand your roles and responsibilities. Try to understand what is expected of you. Set yourself clear goals with definite timelines. Understand what tools and techniques your team uses. If something is new to you, spend the effort and time to learn about the same. Prioritise your learning list based on what is expected of you.

Give yourself more to do
Do not just wait for work assignments. Keep reading and practicing tasks would be relevant to your field. Do not be satisfied by just doing the minimum work assigned to you. Plan to give yourself more challenges and achieve the same. For example, mastering a particular module may be an assignment you can set for yourself.

A lot of times, newcomers feel bored and distracted because there is simply not much to do. As such, most of them end up chatting with and emailing friends. As a practice, do not use office resources to make personal calls and chat online. These are distractions that may hinder your progress when you have work to do. Instead, try to be creative and constructive with the time you spend at work.

Smart work
Commit yourself to your work, get involved and creative. Do not be afraid to ask questions. Before you start working, analyse the tasks assigned to you and be clear on what you need to do. Also, ensure that you know the timeframe for completing the task.

What is important is not the number of hours spent in the office, but that the task is completed and meets expectations. Hence, do not stay late just to impress your boss. Your boss could be better impressed if you complete the task assigned within the given timeframe.

Timings and attendance
Though most of the companies offer flexible working hours, be punctual about when you arrive at the office. Anybody in your team should be able to depend on you to arrive at a specific time. Also, it is advisable not to take too many days off. Not only would it be a distraction, but you will lose momentum at work.

Late starts/ lack of speed
If you have a week's time to complete the work, do not start a day before the deadline. Distractions such as friends, cigarette breaks, personal errands, organising your photo gallery or preparing for an upcoming exam during office hours could have a disastrous effect on your current job assignment.

Training programmes and meeting ethics
Initially, when you have a training schedule, always be prepared or you may find yourself in sudden quiz or an objective test totally out of touch. Inculcate an attitude of learning in yourself. Little or no interest to learn can result in negative feedback and remarks, which may lead to prejudice later.

Whenever you attend meetings or training sessions, take a notepad and pen with you. Sometimes things may go above your head, so try to get down the key issues down and look them up later.

Mind your body language in meetings. Others can very clearly notice a drowsy, lethargic or sluggish look. Try to be as interactive as possible.

Email etiquette
Never use SMS language while typing out emails to your supervisors. Also, try not to goof up by sending a second mail for the missed attachment or recalling unnecessarily sent mail.

Key contacts
As soon your team is formed, try to get the contact numbers of your teammates. If, due to some emergency, you are not able to attend office, you can inform them about the circumstances and not leave them in the lurch.

It is always a good idea to inform a couple of people around you if you are not at your desk (even for less than an hour). Inform your teammate or your supervisor about the tasks at hand before leaving for the same, so that they may plan accordingly.

Magic words
Do not forget to use 'please', 'thank you', 'excuse me', 'sorry' when necessary; always be courteous.

When beginning your first job, recognise the opportunity you have before you. Stay motivated and learn as much as you can from the people around you. If you're systematic and methodical in your activities, it shouldn't be too long before you become the star performer of your organisation.

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