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Making the Most of the First 12 Months on the Job

As classes and finals conclude in the next few weeks and graduation gets closer, you’ll begin to make plans for your next chapter. Know that as you accept an offer of employment or prepare to pursue an advanced degree program, we recommend you take some time prior to your start date to create a plan for how you will make the most out of your first 12 months on the job or in graduate school. Here are 6 tips from the CCA to help you make sure you  are making the most of your opportunity:

1. First Impressions Count. 

Smile. Be warm, genuine and friendly. Take the initiative to introduce yourself to new people. Take in your surroundings and read the room whenever possible. Every work organization has its own culture and work practices so it’s important to learn how to navigate your new workplace. Watch and learn how and when people interact with one another, formally or informally.

2. Do your job, and do it well.

Review your position description and the information you received through your offer letter (employment) or acceptance letter (perhaps you’ve accepted a research or TA position in graduate school) to ensure you know to the best of your ability what is expected before your first day on the job. As you begin your work, get organized, create good work habits by taking good notes and creating to-do lists, be proactive and address any questions with your supervisor or hiring manager to confirm their expectations regarding communication, training, deadlines and projects. Be sure to take time to prepare for meetings ahead of time. Review agendas and read any background materials provided to you prior to the start of your meeting.

3. Go above and beyond.
After you have a clear understanding of your responsibilities and have completed any formal training, begin to  look for ways that you can do more – volunteer for projects, ask people to meet for coffee or lunch during a break period to learn more about what they do. Inquire if you are able to join a meeting to observe/learn or assist with additional tasks when the time is right. These are great ways to show additional initiative, build your skill set and meet others in the organization outside of your immediate team.

4. Request feedback.
Don’t wait until the end of your first year (or first semester) to get feedback. Ask your direct manager/supervisor  about their preferred way to provide feedback, and don’t hesitate to reach out to your colleagues to ask questions or share your reactions/reflections on a project as well as get feedback from others. Take time to ask yourself: What went well? What did I learn? How can I improve in the future?

5. Make connections.
Schedule networking meetings with fellow new hires and staff you are working with in your new role. In a 15-20 minute meeting you can learn a lot about someone’s career and their experience at the company. Once you’ve spent some time on the job, consider reaching out to those colleagues who you don’t have regular interactions with. Check out the CCA Networking 101 handout for sample questions to get your conversation started.

6. Track your accomplishments and impact.

As you work your way through your first year on the job, or in graduate school, get into the practice of tracking your accomplishments throughout each week, note your contributions to the team and/or company and most importantly the impact of your work. This information will help you to reflect about how you are growing and learning as an individual and it will be extremely helpful as your prepare for periodic evaluations or quarterly  conversations about your performance (see #4 above).

If you are actively seeking employment, new opportunities are being added to Handshake each day. We strongly recommend you review those postings and schedule a career coaching appointment to discuss your search strategies in the coming weeks. 

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