How to Kick Off Your Career

The newly minted college class of 2016 is entering the best labor market since the Great Recession ended, but that doesn’t mean that recent grads can kick back.

Here are a few tips for the workforce’s newest entrants.

Get the Right Attitude

As with any worker starting a job, you need to make a good first impression, so your first goal is simply to deliver the goods. Be willing to do what is asked of you and more; volunteer to help out in any way you can; and become known for being energetic, diligent, hard working and collaborative.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions — especially if you need clarification on an assignment.

Start Building Relationships

Almost every job you have will lead to another one down the line, so part of your experience must include building and maintaining relationships. Call it the dreaded “networking” process if you must, but you don’t need to be calculating about it. After all, you’ve likely been cultivating relationships for your whole life, and doing so at work is not really that different.

Find people both within and outside your department, and learn about who they are and what they do at the firm. A good guiding principle is to give before taking: If you can help someone solve a problem or learn something, it will smooth your way further down the road if you ever need to ask for a favor.

Your co-workers may eventually serve as references, recommend you for a job, or alert you to positions at other companies — so as you get to know them, be sure to connect via LinkedIn.

Need help meeting colleagues? Many employers host events for interns and new employees; they may also have various employee networking groups. Attend the former and join the latter. Just be sure to treat them all as business opportunities, not opportunities for free booze.

Keep Learning

It’s important to take any opportunity you can to keep learning. Seek feedback from your supervisor on a regular basis to ensure that you are on the right track. And if a senior leader takes an interest in you, follow up by asking for advice.

Finally, be willing to take chances or move laterally, so that you can position yourself for the next phase of your career.

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