You’ve proven you have the skills, experience, and personality to join the company. From the first day on the job, you have to perform and do it professionally. For young professionals, a challenge will be proving that you are capable of performing the job. You are no longer in college and should not give your colleagues the impression that you are a student.
Appearances are important, and just like at your interview, you should wear appropriate attire to work. The business attire you wore to the interview may not be required for your office; therefore, it is important to ask your recruiter or hiring manager about the dress code. As you begin working, you can observe your colleagues and determine how formal or casual they dress.
In school, classes had a defined schedule, but in your career, you may not have a specific schedule. Many employers expect that you will be at work at a reasonable time and do all of your hours for the day. If you have the luxury of choosing your own schedule, be mindful of your company’s core business hours. Typically, the core hours are defined between a start and finish time like 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. If your schedule is predefined, be sure you are punctual. You are not expected to work non-stop when you arrive at work, but you should minimize your downtime. When you are away from your workstation for an extended period of time, you should inform someone that you will be away. Your colleagues should not have to search for you and should never question whether you have actually worked all of your scheduled hours.
With social media, text talk, and the need for quick messages, our generation has minimized our vocabulary and created a new language. Although this language may be acceptable for a tweet or Facebook post, it should not be used in the workplace. When sending e-mails or writing documents, be sure to spell out phrases and try hard not to use any slang. Common business acronyms are acceptable where applicable, but these are the only exceptions. Not only do you want to be professional but many of your colleagues are from a different generation and may not understand the verbiage.
When you are given the responsibility for a deliverable, be mindful of the deadline and expectations of this deliverable. If the instructions are not clear, ask specific questions until they are clarified. When you submit a deliverable, you cannot have the excuse that you did not understand the expectations. Procrastination may have worked in school, but curb that habit quickly. You’ll want to begin working on a deliverable as soon as you have the availability. You will want to ensure you have enough time to review the deliverable prior to submitting it. You would also like to leave enough time to ask questions if you run into any issues. Your colleagues may not have as much availability to answer your questions at the last minute.
“Meeting for the sake of meeting” will become a reality when you begin your career. It seems like there is always a meeting. Although there may not be a purpose for a meeting, you should always go prepared as if it’s the most important meeting you will attend. Taking notes is imperative; you’ll want to capture, at a high level, discussion items, tasks, and deadlines. It is good practice to have a notebook or document that you capture all notes associated to specific meetings. If you have a weekly meeting to discuss a certain project, all the notes relating to this meeting should be kept together. This will enable you to have an archive to reference. Although meetings can be the least exciting part of your day, do whatever it takes to stay awake. There is always a person within the company who dozes off during a meeting; try hard not to be that person. It will seem like some days you are in meetings more than you are actually working. If necessary you can schedule time to accomplish a task, schedule “busy” time on your calendar so others are not able to schedule a meeting during that time. Manage your schedule appropriately so that you do not have conflicts and so you have the ability to transition between meetings.
You will spend more time with your colleagues than with your friends or family during the week. This will lead to great friendships—if you allow it. Just remember to maintain your level of professionalism; you should avoid conversations that are inappropriate for work. Typically, religion, race, and politics are all topics that are too sensitive for the work environment. You should also be mindful of creating friendships that will cause an issue with your productivity. At times, you may be in a position where you have to delegate work to a colleague. If you are friends, this may be difficult to manage.
“Work hard, play harder.” Often, companies—more specifically, teams—enjoy happy hours or after-work gatherings. It is important to participate in these outings; they are an opportunity to build camaraderie among you and your coworkers. If the company is sponsoring the event, do not order all top-shelf alcohol or have more than a couple of drinks. When you are at a company event, use moderation while drinking. Moderation also applies to company dinners. If you are at a company dinner and have the option to order your own food, do not order the most expensive entrée, and do not order more food than you will actually eat.