Summer is often a time when students and recent alumni are starting new experiences – many of them jobs and internships. I was once there myself; starting a new job and wanting to not just survive – but thrive. I wanted to be my best self each day, and leave work with both a sense of accomplishment and energy. I reached out to mentors and friends, and received these 3 pieces of advice I carry with me to this day:
- Earn trust first.
It can be easy to start a new role and share lots of new ideas – after all, you’re looking at things through fresh eyes. However, I would encourage a new hire or intern to share ideas strategically at first. Lots of new ideas and initiatives shared quickly can be seen as criticism. Instead, consider building trust first. Ask questions to learn about why a decision was made in the first place. This will not only show genuine interest in the organization’s history, but also can help you make tailored and thoughtful recommendations.
- Practice self-care and squad-care.
You’ve likely heard of self-care before – in short, taking time to care for one’s emotional and physical wellbeing. I’ve described squad-care as the idea that receiving support and encouragement from colleagues, mentors, and friends, can go a long way – and can help with maintaining resiliency and strong mental health during challenging times. First impressions matter when starting a new position – so go in each day with a positive attitude and showcasing strong work ethic. At the same time, make sure that you aren’t forgetting about yourself and setting up a strong support system. Don’t expect self-care (or squad-care for that matter!) to come naturally. Schedule self-care time; that may be a manicure, watching a favorite movie, binging a great show on Netflix, going for a run, spending time outside – you get the idea. Don’t forget that, while work is important, your wellbeing matters so much more.
- Take charge of your own professional development.
Of course, I strongly believe that a professional position (an internship, a job, an externship, etc.) should come with growth. Strong employers provide learning experiences to members of their team – but one cannot rely solely on their employer or supervisor for professional development. Seek out a mentor, find webinars that interest you, join organizations, and read texts about your field; none of these have to cost money, but have a huge impact on your professional development.
These three pieces of advice have yet to steer me wrong – consider following them to ensure that your first few weeks in a new position are strong, manageable, strategic, and healthy. Have you received any great pieces of advice for your first professional days? Consider reaching out to a mentor (or even a Center for Career Development Career Consultant!) to see what strategies worked well for them (and what to avoid!) when starting a brand new experience.