With our annual Campus to Career conference tomorrow, I find myself thinking about the journey to my professional self. Why? Because Campus to Career is all about helping undergraduate and graduate women develop the skills they need to be successful in their first “big-girl jobs.”
I’m just finishing up the first year of my “big-girl job,” so the theme of this conference really speaks to me. Don’t get me wrong, I have worked since I was 15 (which is the legal age to work in Ohio, don’t worry). This is just my first professional job where my education and experience matter. I’m still learning, but I wanted to share 8 tidbits of wisdom I’ve learned so far…
- Thank your mentors and supporters.
No one can achieve success on their own. You had guidance and support along the way from people who helped shape you into the person you are. Let those people in your life know how much you appreciate them.
- Make your space your own.
You will spend the majority of your waking hours at work, so why not enjoy your space? Maybe you’ll have an entire office, a cubicle or a desk to call your own. Maybe your space is just a computer screen. Whatever it is–make it yours.
- Don’t take work home.
Easier said than done, I know. Sometimes bringing work home is inevitable if you have hard deadlines or major projects to finish. I’m not talking about procrastination in your job, but, at the end of the day, whatever work that you haven’t finished can wait until tomorrow.
- Get to know your colleagues.
As I’ve said before, you’ll spend the majority of your waking hours at work, with your colleagues. You don’t need to be BFFs with everyone, but you should at least be friendly and on a first-name basis. Beyond first names and smiles, get to know your colleagues so you can do your best work with them. It’s much easier to do your job when you know what makes your co-workers tick and how they perform best.
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions…lots of them.
You are new. It’s okay that you don’t know everything. It should be a learning process. Asking questions shows that you are committed to doing your best work and are simply seeking clarification and feedback along the way.
When you’re still learning the ins and outs to a job, the best thing you can do is listen. To your supervisor. To your coworkers. Chances are, all of that listening will yield “best practices” in the work that you do–or at least you will know what not to do.
- Own it.
Guess what? Not everyone will be jumping up and down because you got the job. Some people may question if you really have “what it takes” to get the job done. Don’t worry, you do. You got the job because you were the best candidate; don’t let anyone make you think or feel otherwise. Just know that your work will speak for itself. My girl Taylor Swift says it best: “The haters’ gonna hate hate hate hate hate…”
- Fake it ’til you make it.
(I’m referring to confidence here.) When you don’t have a lot of experience doing something, it’s easy to second-guess your abilities and yourself, even though you may be as capable and prepared as any seasoned pro. The minute you begin doing that, those around you will follow suit. If you aren’t 100 percent confident in yourself yet (and it’s okay if you aren’t), fake the confidence until you are. I promise you’ll find your confidence eventually.