How to Succeed in Your First Job

Here’s How To Make A Great First Impression At An Entry-Level Job

You’ve worked hard to earn your degree and even hard to lock down that first job after college. You should recognize and celebrate the successes you’ve had, but don’t underestimate the importance of starting your first entry-level job off on the right foot.

Here are 5 actionable tips to help you succeed beyond your wildest dreams in your first entry-level job:

Prepare for your first day. 

When given a start date for your new job, it can be extremely tempting to relax and passively wait for that date to come before you start getting familiar with your new job. That’s not a good idea. You should spend an hour or so each day getting more familiar with the company, the role, and the people you’re likely to work with. Here are some tips for getting on top of the job before it begins:

  1. Ask your hiring manager for any guides or information to ponder before you start.
  2. Get familiar with the industry you’re working in and your company’s place in it. What are their strengths and weaknesses?
  3. Do some additional research into the professional history (best to avoid personal history) of the other team members you’ll be working with. Where have they worked? What have they done?
  4. Ask the company to help you get in touch with previous entry-level hires in your role. They will have fantastic advice for you on succeeding at the company.
  5. Get coffee with your coworkers before you start.

Show up early and prepared.

There are going to be a lot of moving pieces on your first day. There will be new people to meet, new processes to learn, routines to establish, and the list goes on. Arrive early and create structure for yourself to make it less overwhelming. Here are some suggestions for creating helpful structure on your first day:

  1. Write everything down. It doesn’t matter where. What’s important is that writing things down helps you retain them.
  2. Start a to-do list and be diligent about checking items off as they happen. This will help you when your boss asks what you’ve done lately.
  3. Take breaks to reflect. Take 15 minutes at the end of the day to make any additional notes.
  4. Create a routine. Get lunch at the same time every day. Create structure in your daily agenda.

Be a humble sponge.

Recognize that there’s going to be a lot for you to learn and that your coworkers have a lot to teach. Be patient, respectful, humble, and curious. If you don’t know or understand something, ask for some guidance and help, listen intently, write it down, and take it to heart.

You might find yourself not agreeing with the way certain parts of the company or processes are run. That’s fine. However, it’s always a good idea to attempt to understand why the current processes exist before attempting to change them. You want to work in a place where your voice is heard and respected. Your fellow employees will listen and respect you only if you’re willing to listen and respect them first.

Set goals.

If you remember one thing from this list, let this be it. Nothing is more important than setting good goals for yourself. Ideally, you’re creating these goals with your manager so that you’re both on the same page with respect to the expectations for you in your role. Only once you know what you’re working towards and how you’ll be evaluating your success can you truly start making progress in your job. Good goals will help you push yourself to learn new things, meet new people, tackle new challenges, and get the absolute most from any job.

Learn How to Set Great Professional Goals

Be introspective.

Truly knowing yourself and attempting to understand what you find challenging and rewarding about your job will pay dividends. The better you know yourself, the easier it is for you to set great goals for yourself and achieve them. You’ll get more meaningful results faster in almost every aspect of your work.

So being introspective is important. Great. Now how do you do it?

  1. Consider what you’re hoping to get out of your first job. Are you assessing whether or not you want to continue a career in marketing? Or are you trying to figure out whether or not the industry is interesting to you? Why are you here?
  2. Ask yourself, how do you feel at work? Are you upbeat and happy? Or are you distracted and bitter?
  3. Dig into what you’ve actually learned each day. Is what you’re learning what you want to be learning?

Start using these actionable tips.

Sometimes success in a new job comes naturally and sometimes it requires a great deal of effort. Regardless of what situation you find yourself in, these tips should help you start taking control of the situation and ensure you make the most of your first job after college.

Next, get more career tips for internships and entry-level jobs such as What is an Entry-Level Job? and find answers to common interview questions such as What’s Your Dream Job?