Congratulations: After months of searching for a full-time role, you're finally entering the working world. But while starting your first job is an exciting milestone, it can also be a nerve-wracking one. After all, the last thing you want to do is kick things off on the wrong foot and hurt your career in the process. But if you steer clear of the following mistakes, you'll avoid doing just that.
1. Not asking questions
It's natural to want to present yourself as confident and competent when starting your first job. But here's the thing: Your employer most likely doesn't expect you to come in knowing exactly what you're doing, so if you're iffy on how things work around the office or how you're supposed to handle certain assignments, you're better off asking questions than winging it and making a major mistake. If your boss isn't available for some of that early stage hand-holding, turn to your coworkers instead. In doing so, you'll get a chance to build relationships with them and learn from their expertise.
2. Clocking in too many hours
It's normal to want to show your manager and colleagues that you're a hard-working, motivated employee who's willing to go above and beyond. But you don't want to go overboard, either. Clocking in too many hours on the job when you're first starting out could wind up hurting you by setting an unrealistic expectation. If your boss and coworkers get too used to the idea of you burning the midnight oil, they might start dumping on you or pushing back on the nights that you do try to leave on time. A better bet? Work late when the situation warrants it, but don't force yourself to stick around the office just to put in that face time.
Incidentally, working too hard in the beginning will increase your risk of burning out at work prematurely. And that's a good way to not only hurt your career, but make yourself miserable in the process.
3. Accepting grunt work without striving for more
When you're new to a job, you can generally expect to get your share of less-than-thrilling tasks to handle. After all, you're the newbie, and that's part of the territory. But if you grow too complacent with that grunt work, you might quickly get stuck in a rut where you're spending your days going through motions and not actually using your brain. So don't be shy about requesting different projects, or asking to assist on more engaging ones. Better yet, find projects of your own to tackle and run with them. If you show your boss you're capable of more, your manager will be more likely to start trusting you with big-ticket assignments.
4. Not asking for a mentor
While your boss and colleagues can, and should, serve as resources for you when you're first starting out, having a dedicated mentor at the office will make for a much smoother transition. So if your company doesn't have a mentorship program in place, ask for one. Getting paired up with a seasoned professional who knows your industry inside and out will prove invaluable as you're learning the ropes, and it's also a good way to ensure that you won't be shy about asking for help as needed.
5. Being afraid to rock the boat
When you're the new kid at the office, you may be inclined to keep your head down and do as you're told. But if you see that there's a process that could be improved upon, or have suggestions for making any aspect of your company better, there's no reason to keep those ideas bottled up. Being innovative is a good way to get noticed at work and further your career, but if you're too scared to shake things up a little, you could end up stunting your own personal growth.
Everyone wants to start a job off on a positive note. Avoid these mistakes, and with any luck, your first few weeks on the job will be nothing but successful.
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