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03 May 5 tips to keep in mind for your first post-college job

After four (or more) years of chasing an expensive diploma, 12 years of educational preparation beforehand, and the part-time jobs, internships and seasonal positions you held in between, you are ready for your first “real” job. Even after all of that training, it’s normal to feel unprepared for the upcoming opportunities at your new position, but don’t worry. Here are a few tips to keep in mind as you learn the ropes of your job:

  1. Sync with your bossWithin the first 90 days, try to get a firm grasp of what your boss wants from you, and make sure you touch base with him or her regularly. Your boss may not communicate just like you, so learn how they want to receive information, and the best way to approach topics with them.
  2. Learn the languageImplement some of the pre-quarterly solutions-based action items for the BDM, CMF…what? When you begin your job, you may worry your coworkers are speaking a different language, but don’t worry. Some of the terms your colleagues are throwing around may have been in one of those textbooks you read while half asleep at 2:00 a.m., but many of the terms are specific to the company you work at. Yes, your company may have basically invented their own language, but you’ll be speaking it too soon enough.
  3. Balance initiative with patienceIt’s tempting to try to put your insight and fresh ideas as a new graduate into practice immediately, but be patient. The line between taking initiative and being presumptuous can be thin. Pay attention to how others are communicating ideas and learn your company’s internal structure. Once you feel like you have a good grasp, you can start making suggestions and giving feedback. Likewise, don’t keep your great ideas to yourself. Keep a look out for ways to make improvements, and don’t feel shy about expressing your thoughts in the right place at the right time.
  4. Stay awakeBetween classes, jobs and parties, you may not have had time to sleep very much in college, but you had the ability to make your sleeping schedule flexible. Afternoon naps were an option you no longer have, and yes, mourning is appropriate. Now, at least in theory, you have eight uninterrupted hours you need to be productive and alert for. Get in the habit of going to sleep early and eating healthy foods, which is unfortunately it’s easier said than done. Or, you could just form an unhealthy addiction to coffee.
  5. Appreciate the opportunityMost entry-level jobs aren’t very glamorous. The pay isn’t great, and the work can be menial. Alternatively, you have a great learning opportunity and, at the very least, a position to springboard from. Learn as much as you can from your duties, but also observe your coworkers closely to see what they’re doing right and what they aren’t. You’ll never be less experienced than you are now, so celebrate your growth along the way.
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