Top 10 Tips for New Grads Entering the Business World

It’s that time of year – young men and women are graduating from college by the thousands and making the leap into the corporate world. For some of you, it’s a piece of cake – you’ve already spent time in various roles and internships and are comfortable in your new surroundings. For others out there, it’s a challenge. It’s a change in lifestyle (no more skipping classes or sleeping in!) and a change in culture (office politics!) and it’s not always easy to make this adjustment.

I remember all too well when I started my first “real job” out of school. It was different and it was the little things that I didn’t think about that took me by surprise. Now I was calling adults by their first name – even the one that used to be my high school basketball coach – he still feels like a “Mr.” to me.

That’s why I pulled together a list of 10 basic rules for success in your first job – the unspoken rules for success in the corporate world. Some I learned the hard way, others I learned by observing successful new grads over the years.

  1. Be professional – get there early and be mindful of your dress – take a cue from a person a few levels above you.
  2. Be positive – It is always easier to work with someone who is positive – complainers and gossipers are never fun.
  3. Be open - Regularly communicate with your boss about what your are working on…it gives them peace of mind and builds trust.
  4. Stay calm – Try to keep your emotions in check – in most cases you’ll find that this is business, it’s not personal.
  5. Find a buddy – Try to find a positive role model at the next level up from you who is willing to take you under their wing and show you the ropes. It’s always good to have someone close to share more sensitive questions or ideas.
  6. Learn! – Seek to understand the big picture and how you fit. Ask questions –it demonstrates your engagement in your role. Spend time talking to people outside of your immediate team.
  7. Take initiative – Once you finish your tasks, ask to do more. Nothing is worse than being bored at work – so take the initiative and ask to help. And if there is an area you want to learn more about, ask if there are shadowing opportunities so you can learn more.
  8. Be social – if there is a happy hour or a softball team – join! This is a great chance for you to meet new people and expand your network. After all, your future career opportunities will likely come from people you have a relationship with.
  9. Be nice – always live the golden rule and mind your manners. You never know who your next boss will be so make sure you respect and are kind  to everyone – even the janitor, security guard, and especially the support staff.
  10. Be discreet – don’t put anything in an instant message, email, tweet, or on Facebook that you wouldn’t want your boss to read! Remember even CEOs are social these days!

Bonus #11 - This just in from my colleage Sylvia Santelli, a social media rockstar who succesfully navigated the transition from dorm room to boardroom. Sylvia says:

Be Patient - be patient with yourself and patient with your work. The corporate world is complex and not easy to figure out, but as eager as a fresh-out-of-college, ready-to-excel- young professional might be, they may feel frustrated when they don’t get it ALL right away, like they did in their classes.

Great one, Sylvia. Would love to hear your thoughts – what tips did I miss?

Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jasonbache/4626242697/

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3 Comments

  • 1
    June 7, 2012 - 11:18 pm | Permalink

    #12 Be humble. Don’t act like you know it all but take some time to establish yourself and gain people’s respect. You have to prove yourself. By all means share ideas and be proactive but be careful to jump to conclusions. It’s generally good to ask questions in meetings vs. assuming you have all the answers. There’s a fine line between being self-confident and seeming naiive when you just start out.

    • 2
      June 8, 2012 - 6:51 am | Permalink

      Very true Natascha and thank you. Always good to remember that you were hired because you are smart and have lots to offer but there is always something to learn! And yes, Sylvia totally rocks!

  • 3
    June 7, 2012 - 11:19 pm | Permalink

    PS: Sylvia rocks!

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