As a new professional, you are placed in an unfamiliar environment amongst people with a lot more experience than you. If this is your first job, you are usually waiting for someone to tell you what to do. This feels nothing like the orientation you had back at frosh week at university. You are now an employed adult, and you are expected to behave like one.
Our articles are written to help guide through your initial period at work, and help you make a smooth transition from school to work. Many of the advice applies to you even if you have previous work experience but are starting a new career trajectory.
What better way to start your job than by sounding confident from day 1 (or week/month/year 1!).
Put things into perspective
The most important thing to remember is that this is the first day (or first week/month/year) of your first job, and everyone else knows that. People appreciate you making a genuine effort, but no one expects you to perform miracles. And if they are harsh to a new professional, it’s a red flag and certainly not the kind of work environment that will encourage professional growth.
Take a deep breath and remember that you will not be fired unless you do something extremely destructive. There is also no need to try and impress people with your work skills or knowledge just yet – you will have a lifetime of opportunities to do just that.
Be an interesting person
Were you an interesting person outside of your school life? If not, now is the time to pick up hobbies. Have you travelled during school breaks? Tell people about your adventures and share stories. Equally importantly, listen to their stories about work and life – and never be rude or dismissive.
Avoid using words that make you sound less confident
There are certain words or phrases you need to stop saying altogether (or say less of) at work. For example, individuals that say ‘sorry’ all the time sound clumsy and unsure. Of course, there are times when you make a genuine mistake and need to apologise but that’s different. Other phrases that make you sound less confident are ‘I think…’ or ‘Maybe’ or ‘I’m not sure…’. Here’s a great article of what to avoid saying if you want to sound confident.
Participate in social activities with work colleagues
If your colleagues go to lunch together and invite you, accept the invitation. Go out on coffee runs with them. People are tense and competitive at work but tend to relax outside of work. Bosses are known to promote individuals who they know as more than just employees.
However, there is a fine line between socialising and doing something you don’t feel comfortable participating in. Do not feel intimated in saying no to pushy behaviour or feel compelled to cross your personal boundaries. Younger workers are more prone to workplace harassment incidents than more seasoned employees.
Find at least one mentor
I personally recommend every young professional to find a mentor, preferably in their chosen industry. This advices also applies to older professionals, particularly recent immigrants. A mentor/mentee relationship does not have to be officially pronounced; a mentor can be somebody you look up to and can communicate with to ask for advice. And your mentor does not have to work at the same company as you either. At Impact ExL we try and match young and aspiring individuals to industry experts, so make use of our resources.
There are many benefits of having a mentor. For example, they can help you review your work experiences, guide you to a better work life using their own experiences as examples, and give you advice to help grow your career in long term.
If you have found your dream job, consider yourself lucky. However, if this isn’t your dream job, don’t fret. Use every opportunity to learn, network and gain experience.