You got a job...now what?
By Anna Harrison
It’s easy to focus only on how to get a job, but what do you do once you actually get one? How do you make a good first impression, second impression, third (you get the idea)…and set yourself up for success? Here are some tips to make yourself stand out in the workplace once you arrive:
1. Introduce yourself and remember names. It may seem simple, but these first introductions are vital. So, make sure you know what you’re going to say about yourself and write down a list of who’s who in the office. (One good thing about the pandemic: if you’re bad with names, like I am, Zoom provides them on the screen for you—but write them down anyway.) Be sure to talk to as many people as possible. Don’t be shy! Be a sponge and soak it all in.
2. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. It’s your first day / week / month on the job, and no one expects you to know everything; no one is going to think you’re an idiot for asking a question. In fact, asking the right questions shows that you’re proactively engaging in your role, not just waiting to be told what to do. If there’s a role someone has that you want to learn about, ask them about it! I work in Program Planning at Cartoon Network but have set up chats with people from Development and Business Operations, because I want to know more about what they do—plus, it helps me with my job. I am developing a more holistic view of things. People want to help. So, even if you might be shy or embarrassed to ask, don’t be.
3. Set goals. Don’t let things fall by the wayside just because you’ve secured a job. It can be easy to get complacent once you’ve gotten a job, because it might seem like the hardest part is done. However, you need to make goals beyond simply “get a job.” Where do you want to be in six months? A year? Five years? How can you get there? What do you need to start doing now to achieve those goals? If planning for the future frightens you (as it does me), then set hard deadlines on your calendar to force yourself to get it done. Break down your goals into small, actionable steps and tasks. Create a list; prioritize it; group tasks in smaller chunks, give yourself a deadline each week to accomplish them. Also, don’t be afraid to voice your goals to your peers and bosses—it’s good for them to know where you see yourself long-term, and they most likely can help you get to where you want to go.
4. Get to know your teammates. You and your colleagues work towards a common goal, and they can become your allies and friends. If there are after-work events, make every effort to attend or participate, whether it’s a happy hour or a sports league or volunteer opportunity. If there aren’t any after-work events, organize one! Though it might initially seem intimidating, everyone—no matter where they are in the chain of command—is ultimately just a person, and it can be easier to connect outside of the work environment. Events are good ways to learn more about the company, network with others, and make friends with your coworkers—plus, they can be a lot of fun. For example, speaking from experience here, karaoke is a great way to get more comfortable with your colleagues, because now you’ve seen them at their most embarrassing. It really helps you overcome any intimidation you might feel around them.
5. And most importantly, take initiative. As you get more comfortable in your job, begin to ask for more responsibilities and show your interest. Organize lunches or Zoom calls with your colleagues. Ask them about their own projects. Go that extra step in your work without being asked. Be proactive! Show that you’re invested in the role and make yourself stand out with your enthusiasm. Again, I personally set deadlines on my calendar to ensure that I follow through and reach out about any ideas that I might have. Don’t underestimate the power of Google Calendar!