20 Tips for Young Professionals to Keep in Mind at Their First Job

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Congratulations, Class of 2014! Whether you are headed to a nonprofit, government agency, or private company, here are some tips that I feel are worth sharing.

Photo Credit: www.comsoc.org

Photo Credit: http://www.comsoc.org

    • Always bring a notebook and pen/pencil to a meeting, even if it’s a short, informal discussion.  You never know when you will need to write something down.

 

    • During each staff meeting, take down your ‘action items’ on your meeting agenda. These are items that you need to act on after the meeting, whether it is something your supervisor asked you to look into or follow-up on or a task that you volunteered for. This way you know exactly what you’re responsible for completing.

 

    • It’s also not a bad idea to keep a ‘daily activities log’ and record what you complete each day.  It will help you stay organized and multitask efficiently.

 

    • Don’t be late…but if you are going to be late, send a text/email or call the office.

 

    • If you aren’t sure how to dress for a meeting or conference, dress more formally than you think you need to. Better to be overdressed than under-dressed, especially as a young professional.

 

    • Be careful what you post on your personal social media. If it feels like you maybe shouldn’t post that photo or status update, don’t. You are a young professional and want your colleagues to take you seriously, so keep that in mind when you are on the internet.

 

    • If you aren’t sure about something, or something doesn’t feel right, ask before you do anything.

 

    • For your first couple of months on the job, do as much listening as possible, that way you can learn about the organization’s work and office culture.

 

    • Don’t eat during meetings, unless it is explicitly said that it’s okay or everyone else is eating.

 

    • If you are available, check your e-mail over the weekend if you have a couple minutes and pick up your phone if one of your colleagues calls you. This will show that you are responsible and dependable.

 

    • Give interns meaningful projects and give them context and background for those projects.  Explain to them why they are doing what they are doing, so they can learn and build their skill set. As much as they are helping you, you should help them too.

 

    • Don’t drink at work events. If everyone else is having a drink, have one and sip it.

 

    • Don’t eat lunch at your desk…once you start, you won’t be able to stop. You’ll be much more productive in the afternoon if you take some time to change your surroundings. Going for a short walk on a nice day was always one of my favorites.

 

    • If you need help or are feeling overwhelmed, ask for help in a calm, professional way. It will help you in the long run.

 

    • Take on new projects with enthusiasm.

 

    • Learn as much as you can from your colleagues. You are surrounded by amazing talent and expertise.

 

    • Proofread. Proofread. Proofread. Read your writing aloud to yourself.  Print a copy and take a red pen to it. Ask someone for another set of eyes on it. Always, always, always check your links in any email or document.

 

    • Remember that you are a representative of an organization with an excellent reputation.

 

    • Take photos and notes at conferences, events, and meetings.

 

  • Make lists, keep records and files, color code. Stay organized.
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