GET EMAIL UPDATES FROM POWERTOFLY
Career Advice

5 Pieces of Job Advice for New Grads — What I Wish I'd Known

Dear Recent College Grad,

Maybe you've just started your first real full-time job. Or maybe you're off taking an obligatory backpacking trip in some remote corner of the world, convinced that the month between now and your start date will last an eternity.


Or perhaps you're still searching for a job and feeling a bit jealous of your classmates that have already been hired.

Whatever your situation, the transition from school to work is an abrupt one, and the learning curve is long.

I started my first full-time job almost exactly five years ago, and there's a lot I'm still figuring out. I was really, really good at school. And I think I'm generally so-so at work. Actually, I've found that it's often the best students that struggle the most with the adjustment.

Why? School and work are different beasts.

The sooner you learn the differences — and how to be really, really good at work — the better off you'll be. It seems like everybody has job advice for new grads, and in honor of my five-year real-world workaversary, I wanted to share mine.

Without further ado, here's what I've learned so far:

1) Rubrics no longer exist. Make your own.

In school, when you're assigned a paper, you're typically told what you need to do in order to get an A, B, or C.

In the work world, when you're assigned a project, your boss isn't going to explicitly say what needs to be done in order to succeed.

Oftentimes this is because your boss isn't even sure yet what they hope to see. This kind of ambiguity can be panic-inducing for a new grad who's used to having clear expectations.

So what can you do? Schedule a meeting with your boss and tell them how you plan to define success on this project. Come prepared with a list of goals and how they will be measured. Give yourself a grade at the end of each project and ask your boss if they agree with your assessment.

2) Finished is better than perfect.

Read some job ads and count the number of times you see "results-oriented" or "bias for action." Businesses want employees that get stuff done. So as tempting as it is to procrastinate or push assignments off until you can perfect them, just get them done.

B+ level work is normally more than sufficient, and unlike school, the real world relies on iterations. Everything can be improved upon. So submit a draft early, and know that you can make it better with the help of your team.

Similarly, resist the temptation to let assignments that your boss mentions off the cuff fall through the cracks. You are only human, you can't do all the things. But if your boss tells you to do something, either 1) do it and tell them when it's done or 2) double check the urgency of the request and prioritize it accordingly. Don't just let skip it and hope they forget about it. It will come back to bite you.

3) Learn to be intrinsically motivated.

I was a total grade monkey. By that I mean, I'd do anything to get an A — and avoid getting a bad grade.

At work, I no longer had a 4.0-shaped carrot dangling in front of my face. Instead, I quickly realized that if I did a mediocre job on an assignment, no one would say anything to me. And if I did an amazing job on an assignment, my boss still might not say anything to me.

If you're someone who's previously relied on praise or top grades for motivation, this silence can be both confusing and demotivating. You need to find something other than praise from your boss to motivate yourself.

Try writing a list of reasons you want to do your job well, and connect them with positive outcomes. E.g., "I want to learn as much as I can at this job because it will help me become the best professional I can be."

When you finish an assignment, congratulate yourself and remind yourself of how it connects to your larger goals.

4) Set up some extrinsic rewards with your boss.

Some research indicates that extrinsic motivators can actually take away from intrinsic motivation, but let's be real… we don't all land our dream jobs straight out of college, and sometimes getting through the day and doing your best requires concrete, extrinsic rewards.

The problem is, as previously mentioned, businesses don't always have extrinsic rewards in place. Sure, you'll get an annual or maybe even quarterly performance review, but compared to weekly grades, that's not very much feedback.

Raises and promotions are great, but they're also relatively infrequent.

So what can you do to get some extra motivation week-to-week? Sit down with your boss and set clear goals. Just having goals and knowing whether or not you hit them can serve as extrinsic motivation. But you can also add positive rewards, like commissions or the ability to leave early on Fridays if you hit all your goals for the week.

Think of what motivates you the most and chat about it with your boss — don't be afraid to get creative. If you're the betting type, consider making a game out of it.

5) Manage up.

That is to say, learn to manage your manager.

For a new grad, managing up may be uncomfortable, but it's one of the best things you can learn to do.

The business world flips the academic world on its head. In school, you're generally rewarded for doing what you're told to do well. Teachers review your work and have semi-objective standards in place to evaluate it.

Not so in the corporate world. There, the employee who brags the loudest is often the employee that gets promoted.

Doing good work is important. But if you just silently get work done and don't know how to share your results with the folks who manage you, there's a good chance your impact will go unnoticed.

Oftentimes, managers are way too busy to successfully manage you… so when you're doing your job well, they might not notice you. This won't do wonders for your motivation or any feelings of imposter syndrome you might be dealing with.

When you feel like you need reassurance or want praise for a job well done, be proactive.

Put some time on your boss's calendar at the end of each week to tell them what you've accomplished, or shoot them a list of your top 3 achievements for the week. Maybe put together a quick presentation on a problem you solved and the impact it had (make sure you quantify it).

Should managers be doing this on their own? Yes. But are they? Typically not.

As a new employee, you'll often end up with a lot more free time than your manager, at least initially. So by demonstrating initiative and ensuring your boss knows what you're doing well and what you need help with, not only will you be setting yourself up for success, you'll be building a positive relationship.

And one of the best ways to motivate yourself to do good work is to build a bond with your manager — if you like them, it's unlikely you'll want to let them down.

----

Going from flexible schedules, campus parties, flip flops, and 24/7 dining halls to working (and being "on") five days a week isn't easy. It takes a lot of getting used to, and there's other #adulting tasks to adjust to as well, but by setting realistic expectations and knowing what it takes to succeed, you'll already be ahead of the pack.

Good luck and enjoy the ride! For all its challenges, you'll soon realize that working set hours, contributing to the world, and making money can actually be pretty fun.


Giphy

Karat

10 Women in Tech Share Their Tips for Working From Home

How to stay productive and positive while working remotely

With the outbreak of COVID-19, scores of people are finding themselves working remotely for the first time. Trying to stay productive while at home with so many distractions can be overwhelming, so we asked women tech leaders what they were doing to work from home successfully. Along with getting a great pair of noise canceling headphones (game changer!), they have 10 excellent tips to help you thrive in a work-from-home environment.

READ MORE AND DISCUSS Show less
popular

5 Life-Changing Products You Didn't Know Were Invented by Women

I've been thinking about women's ingenuity a lot recently; after all, crises like the one we're facing now fuel innovation. They especially fuel innovation from those who are on the frontlines, in desperate need of solutions.

READ MORE AND DISCUSS Show less
Diversity & Inclusion

She’s Paving the Way for Women in Cybersecurity: How She Went from First-Generation College Student to IT Leader

A Conversation with Freddie Mac's Stephanie Johnson

When Stephanie Johnson, currently an Information Security Manager at Freddie Mac, was just starting her career as an IT professional, she found herself sitting in her car one night after work asking herself, "Why am I not being heard? Should I adjust my tone? Posture? What I'm saying?"

READ MORE AND DISCUSS Show less
popular

9 Positive Things to Come Out of the Coronavirus: COVID-19’s Silver Linings

For when you can't read one more bad-news story.

I would never argue that the novel coronavirus is a good thing. COVID-19 has or will cause many deaths, a long-lasting global economic slowdown, and rampant general stress and anxiety.

READ MORE AND DISCUSS Show less
Webinars

Parents' Panel: Supporting Your Fellow Parents' Transition to Remote Work

As schools across the nation close, and the majority of businesses mandate remote work, working parents are now faced with the ultimate challenge - how to balance their families and jobs under one roof while COVID-19 still remains a concern.

PowerToFly is bringing thought-leading professionals (and working moms!) to speak about balancing our new realities and how to best optimize your time at home. In this panel, we'll discuss maneuvering the difficulties of working from home from taking conference calls to juggle homeschooling/ childcare.

Don't feel the pressure, your children, partner and pets are welcome to join this virtual chat!

Join us for this live Q&A to learn new tips, strategies, and hear personal anecdotes from our panelists that have shaped these women into the incredible founders and mothers they are today. You will have the opportunity to ask questions during our free, virtual conversation and have the chance to snag a giveaway sponsored by PowerToFly and our panelists!



Meet the Panelists:

Christine Michel Carter, Creator of Mompreneur and Me

Featured in The New York Times and The Washington Post, Christine Michel Carter is the #1 global voice for working moms. Christine clarifies misconceptions about working mom consumers for brands and serves as an amplifier of their personal truths.

Mary Beth Ferrante, Co-Founder & CEO of WRK/360

Mary Beth Ferrante is a mom of two and advocate for creating inclusive workplaces for parents. She is the Co-Founder & CEO of WRK/360, a career development platform designed for working parents and managers to help companies support, retain and recruit working parents. In addition, she is a senior contributor for Forbes and her work has been featured in Today, Thrive Global, Working Mother, FairyGodBoss, ScaryMommy, and other leading publishers.

Amy Henderson, Founding CEO of TendLab

Amy Henderson is the founding CEO of TendLab, a consultancy addressing the challenges and opportunities parenthood brings into the workplace. TendLab's research-based approach reveals how parenthood can unlock career-critical skills--such as resiliency, courage, and the ability to collaborate--skills which are especially important during this COVID-19 pandemic.

Loading...
© Rebelmouse 2020