Some new graduates learn unspoken workplace rules the hard way. Others simply learn from the mistakes of others, Anisa Purbasari Horton writes for Fast Company. She suggests seven warnings that could proactively help new grads avoid costly mistakes in their first jobs.
Warning No. 1: "Go above and beyond" may be bad advice
You were hired at the organization to do a specific job. Doing lots of extra work outside of your job's duties might stretch you too thin and cause you to underperform on your assigned work, says Horton. "You might be good at everything, but when you're hired for the job, you have to focus on the task at hand," says Lauren Berger, founder and CEO of Intern Queen.
Warning No. 2: Don't expect anyone to hold your hand
The workplace is not like college where you're given specific deadlines, a detailed syllabus, and an adviser. Instead, you're expected to figure things out on your own, Horton says. Those new to the workforce should build a professional relationship with someone who can teach them the skills they need to know, says Porter Braswell, who is cofounder of a recruitment platform for minority professionals.
Warning No. 3: Ask for feedback, but in the right time, place, and manner
You won't be getting immediate feedback like you did with grades in college. You can ask for feedback from your manager at work, but it must be under the appropriate circumstances and needs to be specific, Horton writes. For example, it's better to ask what you could have done better on a certain project or task rather than how you are doing in the job generally.
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Warning No. 4: Missing details can hurt you and your organization
Berger gives an example of when she worked as an administrative assistant. She would schedule a lunch for her boss without checking if the restaurant had multiple locations or if the place had parking. Sometimes the mistakes you make will be small, but they can hurt you and your organization's reputation.
Warning No. 5: Don't forget to look at the big picture
No matter how small your job responsibilities might seem, they still serve your organization's larger purpose in some way, Horton says. Understanding this connection will help make you more productive and will give you a sense of purpose and ownership in your work.
Warning No. 6: Your organization doesn't owe you anything extra, so don't expect anything
Coming from a college environment where everyone is catering to you, to an environment like the workplace where you are catering to the organization, can be a tough transition to make, says Frida Polli, CEO and cofounder of Pymetrics, a hiring startup. You may often end up in situations where you are putting your organization's needs over your own, writes Horton.
Warning No. 7: Don't expect your career trajectory to happen on its own
Instead of advancing with clear guidelines from freshman to senior year, you have to design what career growth will look like for yourself when you're in the workforce. "As a graduate, it's important to decide early on what success in the workplace looks like for you, and understand that no one will be as invested in the results as much as you will be," writes Horton (Horton, Fast Company, 5/16).
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