How to Make an Impact in Your First Job
Is there anything more intimidating than starting the first role in your career? You’re coming in with limited knowledge and hoping to prove yourself. If you’re wondering how you can make a positive impact in this first step of your career (or at any transition point in your career), take a look at the below tips that can help you achieve that.
When you interview for jobs, it’s expected that you take time to prepare for it. The same is true about starting a job. There are a few things that are guaranteed to happen on the first day. First, you’ll need to provide employment and direct deposit documentation to HR. Don’t forget to bring those items! The second thing that will happen is you’ll be involved in some type of training, so bring a notebook and a pen. This will show the team that you are ready to jump right in.
To really set yourself up for success, reach out to your manager and ask them any remaining questions you have before your first day. This can include asking about the dress code, an agenda for your first day, or if there is anything you should bring with you. It also doesn’t hurt to take a quick spin through the latest social media posts or news relating to the company you’re starting at.
A simple trick for doing well at your first job is to take notes. You would be surprised how few people do. Any time you’re being trained on tasks, you should be taking notes. I would recommend writing your initial notes by hand during your training sessions then taking digital notes with screenshots as you go through the task for the first time on your own. These can also serve as training documents in the future if you are promoted or decide to change jobs. They can also be a great reference point for where processes were before you implement any improvements to them.
Note-taking isn’t just beneficial for training purposes. Bring a notepad or laptop to every meeting you’re involved in. This is helpful for a few reasons. One reason is it holds people accountable. If decisions are made and later changed, you have documentation of why the original decision was made. Another reason is that you will likely learn new information or have action items assigned to you in these meetings. Instead of relying on your memory, you’ll have a record of what you need to do or need to research further. A bonus step would be to send recap emails after each meeting. If no one is doing this already, you’ll be recognized for taking initiative and creating a benefit for the stakeholders.
Don’t underestimate how important it is to build relationships at work. Not only does it make going to work each day more enjoyable, but it can also be beneficial throughout your career. Coworkers are a great resource for knowledge about the company. The more you get to know them, the more you end up learning about the work they do and how it contributes to the organization.
Another benefit of being close with your colleagues is that you will have people looking out for you. Everyone has bad days. Having someone who can recognize when you’re feeling down and is there to support you can make a difference.
Your coworkers can also be key players in your development. Some may act as mentors for you. Others can advocate for you when you’re not in the room. If the organization you work for does 360-degree feedback (where your supervisor, subordinates, and workmates provide feedback on your performance), your colleagues will also play an important role in your growth within your field. So get to know your coworkers! Do what you can to establish and nurture authentic connections at work.
The best way to make an impact is to remain curious. Continue to ask questions from the day you start until the day you retire. Doing so will ensure that processes can be improved and that you will learn more every day. This will also come in handy when you make a mistake. If you are someone who can take ownership of your errors and approach them with a solution to prevent them from being made again, your team will recognize your effort to learn from your mistakes. As you continue to learn more, be sure to share your thoughts and knowledge. The team benefits when members share their opinions.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Kristin Piotrowski graduated from Arizona State University in 2017 with a degree in Accountancy and certificate in International Business. Out of college, she spent 3 years growing with the Accounting team at Sportiqe Apparel. She recently changed industries and joined the Accounting and Finance team at Upward Projects Restaurant Group. In her spare time, she runs a blog and book club primarily dedicated to personal development.