Have a firm handshake…
Cliche pieces of advice that you will not find here. Rather, I am going to tell you things that I learned the hard way when I started my first corporate job.
Plan ahead on how to take notes and soak information.
Your first week(s) will feel intimidating. You will hear many acronyms. Have many training sessions. You will hear about projects that make no sense at first. You will see software that may not be familiar to you.
You need to figure out how you will learn all this.
The best thing to do is to think back to how you learned everything else previously. In school, did you take a lot of notes? Then go back home and review everything over again? Did you just sit back and listen? Did that work well? Are you hands on? Do you just need to jump right in a fail, in order to succeed?
Answer these questions so you can formulate a plan before your first day.
Every corporate environment will have the people that love to say “It’s always how we’ve done things here”.
People seem to think being entrepreneurial means to come up with the next Facebook or Google idea and start your own company. That could not be further from the truth.
The corporate life is a sink or swim environment. There will be opportunities for you to do something that wasn’t specifically asked of, while still doing your day to day.
Here are the 7 basic steps:
- Identify something lacking. Something that will add value.
- Formulate a solution. If possible, test it.
- Identify the success metrics. For instance, by making this change to our process, we will save 4 hours of wasted work per week.
- Meet with your manager to share it. You don’t have to go into every detail with him/her. Just aim for a yay or nay.
- Execute. This varies on your work function. Pick small example to see if it will be successful.
- Note down the success.
- Present it to show what you accomplished. Use the metrics. Use visuals and clear examples. Try to get people of influence to attend.
There will be times where you have to sell yourself. A year-end performance review is one common time.
It’s pretty easy. Keep track of everything in excel. Note down the project/task name. The date. What it was. What you did. The end result.
This will also help you when it’s time to update your resume.
Expect politics, no matter how low you are on the totem pole.
Many people leave a job for another, expecting the new job will be free of politics and drama. I laugh at these people.
You will see people that don’t like each other. You will run into personalities that don’t mesh. You will find mini-cliques throughout the office. Some people will like the boss, while others will not. Some people will seem to have it out for you.
Many of these are things that you cannot control. Always ask yourself what you can do to best position yourself. Here a few tips:
- Accept it.
- Identify the players. Who has the most influence? Who is simply a trouble maker? Remember, you do not want to adversely ruffle feathers with a person who can fire you on the spot.
- Build relationships. Especially with your manager. You need a person with influence on your side. But it needs to be earned.
- Establish your position. Don’t be afraid to speak up. It can be subtle if need be, like an indirect statement you make during a team meeting.
- Do your job. And do it well. You will learn to tolerate everything else.
Don’t be afraid to quit.
Yes. I said it. I worked 3 contract jobs to figure out what I liked. Recruiters found these gigs for me. The mindset of working one job for 35 years in archaic. Whatever your field is, there will be subsets of job functions that you can jump into.
For me, I work in Tech. My first job was in database administration. I sat behind a black screen checking statistics of servers and databases. I had to make sure everything was up and running properly. Boring!
My second job, was in testing the functionality of an application the company was purchasing. A mundane, detail-oriented type of skillset was required. I got zero satisfaction here and left.
Finally, my third job involved data. I loved it. Running analytics and creating meaningful information with raw data. I always loved sports, specifically checking box scores and tracking different statistics. This may be why.
I figured out where I would like to swim and pursued it to its fullest. 7 years later, I still work in this field. I;ve been promoted several times.