By: Samantha Fang ’23
While starting your first full-time job after graduation is exciting, it can definitely be daunting. See below for 5 tips to help you make a successful and smooth transition to a full-time role featuring some additional advice from Macaulay at Queens College Class of 2019 alum, Greg Maghakian!
Prepare and plan ahead!
Adjusting to the new schedule can be one of the toughest challenges of starting full-time work. Try to get used to the wake-up schedule before your first day. The last thing you want to do is oversleep or be sleep-deprived during your first week of work! Plan your travel and commute time ahead as well. Punctuality is very important, especially for first impressions. Before your first day, be sure you are also familiar with the company dress code, your basic responsibilities, and company policies.
Employers often consider a new employee’s first couple months on the job to be a test run or even as an extension of the interview process. It is useful to come up with a 30, 60, or 90 day plan to help you navigate this period at your first full-time role! Check out this handy guide to creating this plan: https://www.topresume.com/career-advice/how-to-be-successful-at-a-new-job.
Greg: “Starting a first full-time career role is an experience that you have to get used to. It was a hard adjustment for me, coming to grips with the fact that I won’t have as much free leisure time to do what I want, when I want. Personally, that hit me hard, and I had to strike a balance between work, home, friends, and hobbies. It’s important to prep beforehand with things like meals and events, and getting a planner or using an e-calendar is very helpful in staying on top of everything.”
Be realistic and persistent
It is important to manage your expectations when starting out in your first job. It likely won’t be your dream job or ideal position, and you will probably be given entry-level tasks and assignments. This means you won’t be required to have all the skills nor will you be given the tasks expected of higher-level colleagues. However, don’t let this discourage you! Focus on gaining experience and learning transferable skills. Handle new tasks with enthusiasm and complete them in a timely manner. Allow your boss and coworkers to see the value you bring to the team!
Take initiative, and ask questions!
Don’t be ashamed if you are feeling a bit lost or confused. It can definitely be overwhelming to have this much new information thrown at you for the first time! Don’t forget you’re also here to learn. If you need clarification on a project or are unsure how to proceed on an assignment, don’t be afraid to ask. If possible, do a weekly check-in with your manager to make sure you are making enough progress on your tasks and contributing appropriately to your team.
Greg: “Be proud of who you are, and know that you are meant to be where you are. No, you did not get lucky, or fall into your job. You have the skills necessary for completing the tasks at your work. Feeling like an imposter is totally normal and happens to us all. Act with confidence, and do not be afraid to make mistakes. Just be you, and understand that it is natural to not know everything right now. That will come with time, just like everything else. I also think it is important to not only do your work, but try and go beyond the work you have. Be innovative and have fun with your career. That could mean initiating a new project, or setting up social events.”
Connect with your coworkers
You will be spending a lot of time going forward with this group of people so introduce yourself and connect with them! They can help you have an easier transition, make you feel more comfortable, and allow you to better understand the work culture at your new job.
Greg: “At work, I definitely recommend finding a good group of people to chat with during lunch, or even socialize with outside of work. I cannot stress enough how important it is to make connections and network. With how our economy is structured now, this most likely will not be your only job, and it is important to create meaningful connections that can vouch as referrals or even act as a mentor for you.”
Continue professional development, and use Macaulay as a resource!
Learning shouldn’t stop after graduation! Continue fostering your intellectual curiosity and utilize your resources. Stay on top of industry news and information, join national and regional professional groups that are relevant to your interests, hone in on career skills, and connect with your professional network. Be sure to also keep a detailed record of your work accomplishments so it is easier to prepare for performance reviews. It will also make it easier to update your resume when you are ready to search for a new job in the future!
Greg: “I think that Macaulay did, and still does a great job with advising me! I always refer to Macaulay when it comes to networking, career steps, or advice. It’s so important to be able to talk to someone who is experienced in navigating the early stages of a career. Macaulay was crucial in even landing my first job! I learned everything I know about leveraging and growing my network. You can definitely lean on Macaulay once you graduate. I’d say once you graduate is when Macaulay and our alum network becomes the most valuable.”
To end off, here are some final words from Greg:
“I want to reiterate that a first job is just that—a first job! You will have many defeats and many successes. The ups and downs, and feelings of happiness and sadness all come with the territory. You may love your job, or even hate it. Just know that this is all part of the process and you will be just fine in the end. Life has a funny way of working itself out in the end.”
Interested in writing a blog for the Career Development blog? It’s open to Macaulay students and alums. If you would like to contribute or have any questions, feel free to email Jamie.Ruden@mhc.cuny.edu.