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How to Shine in Your First Job

After years of hard work in school, you just graduated with your degree and now you’re ready to take on the world? However, you’re no longer working in a traditional workforce. Times have definitely changed. If your job is virtual, that will make a difference as well.

So you’ve landed your first job, you’re excited to begin the next chapter but you want to make the most of your first job and really shine.

After years of sitting in a classroom being taught, taking tests and writing papers, you will quickly learn that things are quite different out in the real world or better yet, “workforce.” For the first time you are not given a syllabus on how to succeed and your grades are no longer a report card but come in the form of performance reviews. There are some steps to take that will make the transition from college life to the workforce a little smoother.

Here are a few tips and tricks that will help you to succeed in your first job.

Develop a Strong Work Ethic

You are going to be considered the ‘newbie’ but you should embrace this status and strive to show how quickly you learn and adapt. Show up on time and be ready to work! Your boss will be looking for signs that you are eager to help the company succeed. Take on every project that you’re able to. This isn’t classwork, this is your opportunity to shine! Say yes to the small things that no one else wants to do and go beyond that. If you walk by the trashcan that is overflowing, take the trash out. I know it’s not in your job description but do it anyway. It’s the little things that show who you really are. Do your best work every time and always turn a project in on time. If it’s going to be late, communicate!


You should make an effort to establish a strong working relationship with your boss and the key to that is clear communication. Your boss isn’t a mind reader and if you don’t communicate, they can’t help you with any challenges you may face. If you are working remotely, this is so important. You may want to send an end of day recap to your boss so they know what you are working on and what you accomplished that day -- even if they don't ask for it. They'll be informed and that's important.

While you are no longer in school you should stay in the mindset to keep learning. You are not the expert in your field, so don’t act like you are. Sure, you are expected to figure some things out on your own, be a ‘self-starter,’ but ask when you need assistance. Learn the process, look things up, research and ask questions. The rule of thumb in our office is this – if you can find the information on the internet, don’t ask the question. Otherwise, ask for help when needed. You can also seek feedback from your co-workers. This will help you improve not only the task you're working on but your overall work style.

Knowledge is Power

Learn as much as you can about the company and the clients you are working with. Every piece of knowledge you gain will help you advance. Learn the company culture and respect it. Company culture is one of the most important aspects of how the company operates and is optimal to yours and the company’s success. While some companies have a remarkable culture, others do not and as an entry level employee it is next to impossible to change the culture. So, it is your job to learn how to succeed within the current company culture.

Know your boss. Read their bio, know their history, ask questions and research who they are and why they are successful. Your boss is the single largest influence on your success and ability to advance at the company. You should learn their preferences and expectations, ask them questions and learn from them. Provide your boss with updates on your work or projects to keep them involved and to show the contributions you are making.

Be Organized

The first 90 days at a new job is critical as employers see this term as a trial period to see if you fit within the company. Many companies do not provide benefits, time off or medical until you've completed this trial period, so it's up to you to nail it! One of the best ways to prove yourself during this time is to make a plan for your success. Make lists of tasks and skills you want to complete in your first week, month and 90 days. Meet your co-workers, keep a running list of your projects, connect with a mentor, and other job specific tasks to ensure your success.

Create a list of all your accomplishments both big and small, often known as a brag book or a win journal. Be specific. You have to be comfortable speaking about your job skills and the value you bring to an employer, a brag book will give you practice and keep you prepared for when your boss asks or you are applying to a new job and have to give proof of your success.

You have already succeeded by landing this new job, these tips will help jumpstart your career and ensure success.

Good luck!

That’s all I have for now.


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