New Grad, New Job, 20 Pieces of Good Advice

By: Susan Finco, President, Leonard & Finco Public Relations, Inc.

A couple of times in recent weeks I’ve been asked for advice by new grads who have been fortunate enough to land a job. Just as they were very nervous about finding a job, now that they’ve actually landed a job, they’re nervous about what to do; fitting in and making the most of the opportunity. I put the question out to my tweeps and fellow Facebookers and got some great responses – which are credited below and combined with some of my thoughts.

So what’s a new grad with a new job to do?

1. Be prepared to work in the trenches and earn your stripes. (Jim Reck).

2. Be on time or be early. Buy a watch and pay attention to it.

3. Be flexible both with your time and ideas. Great futures are always being redefined. (Linda Hansen)

4. Say good morning when you arrive and hello when you see people in the halls. Don’t wait for someone to address you first.

5. Be nice to everyone; support staff, maintenance, temp help. It will pay off one day. (Kathy Andreska Scaffidi)

6. Volunteer to help with company social activities and events. You’ll meet new people and learn new things.

7. Seek out a person who has been in the business for twenty or thirty years and pick their brain! Ask them, “How did you get to where you are?” “What did you do right?” “What did you do wrong?” “What would you do over again?” “What would you do if you knew then what you know now?” Cut the time it will take to climb the ladder of success by talking to someone who has already done it. Learn from their successes as well as their mistakes. (Tom Zalaski)

8. Be enthusiastic. Stay excited! (Bob Borger)

9. Show great respect for senior workers and elders who may not be fresh out of school, may not be technologically savvy, but know life. (Molly Miller).

10. Be open to new experiences and opportunities at work.

11. Continue learning. There is never a day that I don’t learn something from someone that I find interesting, valuable or trivia worthy. (Mary Andreska Dess)

12. Like what you do because you’ll never make as much money as you think you will. (Joe Smrekar)

13. Dress appropriately. Better to dress up than down. How does your boss dress? How does management dress? Take your cues from them.

14. Always have a goal ahead of you, even if it’s going to take years to achieve. (Patti Ritchay)

15. Give credit where credit is due. Don’t take the credit for something you didn’t do.

16. Listen and learn, but don’t be afraid to speak up, ask questions and add your opinion; but do so with respect.

17. Keep confidences. Don’t gossip. Know what business activities are confidential.

18. Ask an experienced person to critique you honestly. Am I dressing properly? Am I communicating with co-workers properly? Do you see areas I could improve my performance? The experienced person will be flattered that you think highly enough of them to seek their advice. (Tom Zalaski)

19. Be able to work on your own, but also learn to work as part of a team.
20. In addition to making a living, leave bandwidth for making a life (Maggie O’Hara Swanke)

And here’s one more bonus piece of advice: Four words you should never say: “It’s not my job.”

What strikes me about all of these pieces of advice is that they really are common sense – at least to those of us who have been in the working world for a while. We need to remember that these things aren’t so obvious to the new grad. Take the time to talk with and mentor new workers at your place of business. You will help them and probably learn a few new things in the process!

So what advice do you have for a new grad with a new job?