Monday, January 26, 2015

Work Tips for the New Young Professional

So you finally landed your first "real" job? Awesome! Congrats! It's a wonderful feeling, especially if you landed a gig doing something you truly want to be doing. You may have had jobs in the past or done internships that help you prepare for your new job, but there's a learning curve with any new job and the better prepared you are for the "professional" world, the more chances you have of succeeding and moving up the corporate ladder, so to speak. It's especially important for young professionals to get a good start on their career. Starting a "real" job can be intimating for many, but as long as you're prepared and know what to do to succeed—you'll be fine.

I only just started my first "real" official post-grad job and so far I'm really liking it, especially since I already have some autonomy and room to share my ideas and help expand the firm on some level. There's always a period of training that comes with any job so don't be too worried about being the new person. Many young professionals feel that because they are new and young, they don't hold as much value to the company they are working for. That's not true at all! Don't let yourself fall into that mindset. From day 1, go in there believing (and confidently knowing) you are a valuable asset to the company.

Although this is my first professional job, I've had many part-time positions in the past that have helped me come up with some of these tips. I've also heard many stories from friends about their work experience that have helped me along the way. Luckily, I was raised by parents who always instilled a strong work ethic that I carry with me today. Thanks to all of this I have come up with this list of work tips that will be helpful for any new young professional starting their career!

[Photo cred: David Wall]
  • Keep a planner specifically meant for work to jot down what you did every day. This is especially helpful if you have to report what you did each day and it's also a good way of showing your boss/supervisor that you are actually doing things and not just slacking off. It can also be helpful if you ever need to look back on a day to remember when you did what (trust me, this might save your [work] life one day!) 
  • At the start of each day, make a "to-do" list and continue adding to it as you remember things throughout the day. At the end of the day, jot down whatever needs to be done the next day so you don't forget. Starting a new job can be overwhelming because you'll be learning a lot of new things and being trained to do this and that. It's your job to remember what to do and when to do it, because you will only have the excuse of being new for so long. Get into the habit of keeping track of what your responsibilities are and what people are asking of you. If you don't already have some kind of procedures manual, make one of your own for future reference.
  • Keep notes of what you have to do in the upcoming days, the following week, that month, etc. Breaking it down into time periods will help you stay organized and on top of things. Make sure you're constantly checking your notes so you don't miss anything. It's probably best to make a reminder of what needs to be done a few days before it's actually do, just in case things get super busy. To get extra organized, print out a calendar for each month and write down important dates for the year ahead—including due dates, events, days off, etc. 
  • Have a binder where you can place all important information, your job responsibilities, anything new you learn, etc. This binder will probably save your life at some point. No doubt you will have a lot of training. As you go through training and learn new things, write notes (lots of notes) and then re-write them on the computer (so it's more organized) and print them out. Place it in your binder. Keep sections in your binder so when you need something you'll have an easier time finding it. Can you tell by now how important organization is?
  • Don't be afraid to speak up. This goes in two ways. First, if you ever have any doubts or questions, don't hesitate to ask. It's better to find out the right way to do something than to just give it a go and end up making a mistake. Secondly, don't be afraid to speak your mind (in a nice way) just because you're new. Don't be intimated by the fact that you may lack professional experience or you're younger than other people working there. You're your own person and you have valid opinions!
  • Plan your outfit the night before OR plan your outfits for the week on Sunday. So far I've been guilty of not sticking to this tip at all. I try to plan outfits the night before (and sometimes I do!) but most of the time I'm scrambling in the morning trying to figure out what to wear (and what's clean...) Trust me, it's not the best way to start off your day. This may or may not be an issue for you, but it's certainly something worth trying out to see if it helps you in any way.
  • Go above and beyond. There will be things that are expected of you. Do them. Then there will be chances for you to do things that aren't expected of you or no one even thought about. Do them. This is a great chance to get creative and figure out new ways of doing something or proposing ideas that can help the company. Basically, it's all up to you how you choose to perform. There won't always be time to "go above and beyond" but any opportunity you have to do so, take it. Which leads to the next tip...
  • Don't confine yourself to just your job. Sometimes people have this mindset that just because  a certain task isn't part of their responsibilities they shouldn't have to do it. Don't be that person. Be a team player and willing to help out when needed. Obviously your own job responsibilities come first, but if you have the time to help out, you absolutely should. People will take notice of this kind of attitude.
  • Arrive early. Yes, sometimes things come up and you end up being late to work. Make it a habit to always be early. When you first start your job, you'll probably need to figure out the best ways of getting there and how long it takes, especially if you're dealing with traffic. That's why it's especially important that you're early your first few days. Most people stick to that. Keep doing it, though. I'm not saying show up half an hour early—but it's always good to plan to get there 15 minutes early or so. If anything it can give you time to grab some coffee before heading in!
  • Leave work at work. So this tip may only work for some. There are certainly careers (teachers for example) that require you to bring your work home with you. It also depends on your position and how serious you are about your job, etc. However, when you're a new young professional starting a job can be exciting and overwhelming all at once. You may want to bring some work home (if you're anything like me) but it's best if you leave your work at work. When you get home you want to get the chance to unwind and just relax. If you start bringing work home with you, before you know it you'll become a workaholic and your stress levels will be out the roof. This same tip applies to work problems, gossip, etc. Once you're home, forget about work. Or at least try!

So there you have it folks, my list of work tips for the new young professional! I'm sure I could keep going for days as I brainstorm, but then I'd never get this post published. I'm hoping these tips will help out some of you. I know that after I graduated college I certainly didn't feel ready for any kind of professional job and I think reading some of these tips would have eased my mind a bit. If you ever need any kind of advice when it comes to post-grad work life—don't hesitate to reach out to me!

What are some of your own personal work tips?


  1. This is awesome! I am just now starting my job search for post-grad. It's so overwhelming and scary especially since I haven't really had experience working with a company I wasn't familiar with before. It's all a learning experience! Thanks so much for these tips :)

  2. Such great tips! I will never be good at planning my outfits ahead of time but everything else, I can certainly and/or already do!


  3. Love this post val!!:) writing to-do lists helps me so much at work.. Otherwise my head would explode! Hahah

  4. Congratulations! Glad to hear

  5. I'm really glad the tips helped! It certainly is a learning experience but don't worry- it's scary at first but once you get into the groove of things it's just second nature :)

  6. Thank you! I wish I was one of those people who had their entire weekday wardrobe planned and ready to go but I doubt I will ever be able to do that haha

  7. Thanks Steph :) I feel like I'm using a lot of the "organization" skills I learned back in school when we had like 39024032 papers and exams coming up... at least I learned something useful hahah

  8. what great ideas, I am already working on some of these but pinning for reference, thanks for sharing

  9. This is such excellent advice! Just started my own "big-girl" job post-grad last year too and these are all so helpful. I keep a to-do list as well and it helps so much!! Thanks for sharing. :)

  10. I love your advice "Don't confine yourself to your job" I think that some of the most organic (and surprise) promotions come from sharing ideas and being open to new tasks!