“Your first job is not only about showing that you can get the job done,” Thorin Klosowski writes at Lifehacker. After the thrill of the hire and the trial of negotiation, the maiden voyage begins–one in which you’ll need all the connections and tricks of the trade that you can develop from the beginning.
“Chances are you’ll need to clean the proverbial toilet for a while before you’re given any real responsibility,” Klosowski says. “This means you need to show off your work ethic even if you’re stuck doing tasks you don’t like.”
He makes a canny point: When you’re starting out at a new gig, you’re naturally going to be doing low-level work for your employers–meaning that your dazzling gifts are going to be muted for a minute. The best way you can differentiate yourself from the rest of the entry-level gaggle is by hustling harder than anybody else–and rejoicing in it. As Paul Graham says, you’re going to have to learn to love to schlep.
It’s all about those little trust-building details that will be foundational to your working relationships and your personal brand: You need to always be on time (or early) and make all your deadlines, enabled by the subtle arts of organization. Keeping your desk clean–literally and metaphorically–will signal that you’re dependable.
“You can worry about standing out later,” Klosowski says. “At first you just need to get your work done as efficiently as possible.”
Meet everyone. Have lunch. Make friends. Form bonds. Gain trust.
The best thing you can do for yourself is to get the job done right the first time–and you can do that by asking process questions as set out on the task. If it’s a longer project, Klosowski recommends checking in via progress reports with your boss.
At the same time, don’t overburden your higher-up with tons of questions. This is all a part of managing your manager–an essential skill for successful office navigation. Like Klosowski says, wanting to learn is a great trait, “but so is initiative.”
[Image: Flickr user Namelas Frade]