My Gift To College Graduates: A List Of 10 Ways Not To Blow Your First Job

The hard work only begins once you've got your diploma. Here are 10 things to do every day to guarantee your success once your foot's in the door.

For the next couple of weeks, college graduates will don their robes and mortar boards and finally make that walk across the stage to receive a diploma. With all of the dire media reports about the lack of jobs, those of you who have a position lined up are the lucky ones.  

Good for you.

Now, the work really begins.  Here's a list to get you started:

  1. Do quality work. Crap will catch up with you quickly.
  2. Solve your own problems. Or management will.
  3. Be on time or early. Or your competition will.
  4. Put in the hours. "They" say it takes 10,000 hours to succeed at anything.
  5. Form relationships in your industry. Relationships are everything. 
  6. Learn to write. LOL? No, really. Learn to write.
  7. Dress for the work you want. No one cares about your personal style.
  8. Know your strengths. And don't be afraid to highlight them.
  9. Know your weaknesses. And fix them.
  10. Learn to speak. Like, you know.

You have a leg up on many. Print this list and carry it with you everywhere. Read it every morning. Tape it to the bathroom mirror. Put it on your iPad. Record it as a voice memo. You beat out many for a job, but it will take an incredible work ethic to keep that job and succeed.

Again, congratulations on your graduation and job. Now go take advantage of your situation and rock to the top!

Dayna Steele is a serial entrepreneur, speaker, and the author of of the forthcoming book 101 Ways to Rock Your World: Everyday Activities for Success Every Day. Follow her on Twitter @daynasteele. She went to college when she was 16 and had a really good time.

[Image: Flickr user Phil Roeder]

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  • Brenna Christiansen

    Great article. I wish all career advice was this straightforward and to the point. I think one of the issues of my generation is that we are getting used to snapshots of information and advice. Instead of devouring inspirational books from great thinkers, we hold on to one or two quotes. We have a short attention span so we need snappy lists like this rather than long paragraphs of ideas. I really hope many graduates get to read this. 

  • Joshua Lee

    Good article.  I'd add a few things.  I've been a recruiter for 12+ years.  You only know when something is truly white when you use clorox bleach.  What I mean is, today's college students don't have a reference point for some of the things people older then them say.  (I remember feeling some of this myself growing up).  This is a generation of aesthetics and 4G.  Product quality is relatively good and everything is at their fingertips and its not unusual to make six figures in the first 4 years out of school nor is it out of the question to have a start-up sell for 7 figures within 2-4 years of inception. 

    FastCompany.....Fastgeneration.  My advice is for the young IT and Creative / Marketing talent that are probably getting more attention than their counterparts.  These are things your peers are terrible at and the rest of us notice and talk about regarding your generation.

    1. Always stay humble.  Your counterparts are really bad at this, especially once they get about 4-5 years of experience.  It's the whole sophomoric thing.  Hard to avoid but do your best.

    2. Observe and be more thoughtful about everything that you say and communicate.  If you want to get promoted, people have to know they can trust your sense of good judgment when representing the company to others.  

    3. Look to be of service.  Your life and career as a whole will truly be much richer as a result.

  • Dayna Steele

    Joshua - love the additions. thanks for taking the time to comment.  Dayna

  • Calla Davy

    Lesson #12-heard, could have been less snotty about that critique, my apologies....

  • Dayna Steele

    OK - you just made my day. Email me a mailing address and I'll send you a copy of the new book when it comes out.  #13 Learn to spell (or use spell check). :-)

  • Calla Davy

    Maybe this article would be more effective and professional if "incredible" was spelled correctly. You are trying to give lessons on professionalism and you didn't even spell check your article? Dayna, perhaps a look in the mirror is in order before doling out advice to college grads whom probably know what spell check is....

  • Dayna Steele

    Thanks Calla.  Good catch. Amazing that neither my editor/spell check or FastCompany's editor/spell check caught that.  I once sent 16,000 emails to Space Store customers to let them know that an astronaut was coming in for a book signing.  Spell check let 'boob signing' go through.  It as a VERY successful BOOK signing.  

    Lesson #11 - Learn from your mistakes.
    Lesson #12 - Be gracious.

  • Dayna Steele

     It WAS a VERY successful BOOK signing.  Ever had one of those days....