Congratulations. You graduated! You slaved away for years in post-secondary schooling, racking up tens of thousands of dollars in debt. You then spent a few months interning, taking little to no pay in whatever entry level jobs you could get your hands on.
You cut your teeth, leverage your meager experience, put on a big smile in the interview and get the payoff: your first real job.
I recently went through this very same process, and along the way, I learned a few things that I’d love to share with you:
Don’t resist the fact that it’s not in your job description:
This is especially true in small businesses. When I started one of my first entry-level jobs, I was brought on as a copywriter. I had just finished a copywriting program and that was what I had experience in. Before long, however, my responsibilities had quickly evolved.
Don’t get me wrong, I still write for TBP (even as I say this, that’s what I’m doing). But as time passed my position organically developed. In my first two months, I realized I loved sales. So the team encouraged me, tasking me with more client relations and sales. Still involved with copywriting, they put me to the test in web design, human resources, administrative work, data entry, training and fetching coffee.
Here is the opportunity: you get to develop abilities you didn’t know you had. Who knows, you might discover you really enjoy something you initially had no interest in. Don’t define yourself as any one thing until you’re certain you can be the best at it.
Don’t let prior engagements get in the way of your new job:
One of our clients was looking for a writer. I had a friend who I thought would be a perfect fit. He accepted this position without informing his new boss that he had a freelance contract to finish up, before he could really commit to the new position.
When the new boss asked when he would like to start, my friend felt it was totally justified to suggest he start the following week. However, the boss interpreted this differently. Upon his failure to disclose this important information, it looked like he wasn’t eager about the new job, and this ultimately set him up for failure. In the end, the job dissolved.
The lesson here?
COMMUNICATE. If you have other things going on, be open with your new potential boss up front and try to find a work-around.
Don’t let work consume you:
Leave yourself time to do the things you love. Keep up with your hobbies. Make time to go to the gym. It’s amazing what a little bit of time management can do for you. You will soon come to find that watching a little less TV in the day makes a massive impact on your productivity.
I recently saw Brian Tracy speak at an event we organized. One of his most powerful quotes was that “People with clear, written goals, accomplish far more in a shorter period of time than people without them could ever imagine.”
Get your priorities straight. Trust me. You’ll feel better for it.
Do realize that it’s always an adjustment to bring in new staff:
Do you remember how anxious you were on the first day at work? You were probably excited to be starting something new, but there’s always a bit of hesitation about how you’ll fit in.
The person training you probably has the exact same hesitations. They’re probably used to doing a lot of your responsibilities themselves, especially if you’re being hired in a growing company.
What’s the solution? Demonstrate your eagerness to learn. Ask questions. Behave like an “A-player” and be “all in”. It will work wonders in the adjustment process.
Do accept that there’s no such thing as a 9 to 5:
Unless you’re a government or unionized shift worker, you usually won’t be able to predict your exact hours.
“A-players” do not watch the clock. If you want to advance in your company and get a promotion, you’ll have to earn the right. Roll with the punches! Being willing to stay a little later, or shift from working Monday to a day on the weekend goes a long way in earning cred with the boss.
Do treat everything as a learning experience:
Any entry level jobs allow room for error. You aren’t expected to walk into a CEO position. If you are unsure of how to do something, ask questions. It’s better to have someone take the time to walk you through it once, than for you to sit and struggle for hours to figure it out.
There’s no shame in admitting you are having trouble with something. The nice thing is, it’s only a mistake if you make it twice.
If possible, align yourself with a mentor. Find someone who will hold you accountable for your responsibilities, and coach you when you still have things to learn. It’s the key to becoming successful in any business.