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Advice For Starting Your Career

So, you’re about to join the corporate world!  Congratulations are definitely in order.  You’ve worked hard to get to this point and are probably excited for the challenges and opportunities ahead (and that paycheck!) . But all employees, no matter their position, are looking for advice when starting their career.  The first couple of years in a corporate position can seem daunting and particularly difficult and though it does get easier, we’re compiled some helpful advice below.

But the corporate world is vastly different than school or a part-time job.  There are a lot more nuances, unwritten rules, and professionalism that you are expected to know.

Don’t be nervous!  No-one is an expert from day one and it is going to take some time to get used to the ropes, understanding the dos-and-don’ts, and getting used to waking up early every day of the week.

We’ve compiled a quick list of pieces of advice which we wish we knew when we were first starting out.  Feel free to share or comment with your thoughts.

This isn’t your last job.

Yes, this may be your first job, but it almost definitely won’t be your last. Give it your all and work hard every day to get promoted and recognized, but you should always keep an eye out for better opportunities.

A common saying is, “your job is to work for a better job.”  This doesn’t mean that another job has to be with another company, but you should always be working towards advancing in your career.

Be Committed to Your Success

Don’t be scared to take new opportunities and career-advances.  Though you may feel it may be a disservice to your current employer, you should always be looking for ways to promote your own success.

You should track how you are doing and make-sure that you are hitting on company deliverables.  Always ensure that you are putting in 110% worth of effort and work towards that advancement.

Consider All Benefits

Yes, your salary is probably the most important compensation metric.  But don’t count out the additional benefits and perks your company may offer.

Does your company have a generous 401k option, can you work from home, do you have unlimited paid-time-off?

You should calculate the costs of these benefits and add them into your total compensation when assessing a career move.

Take Advantage of Your Company’s 401k Option

The sooner you begin contributing to your 401k, the more you’ll have saved and accrued for retirement.  A 401k is a way for an employer to help you save for retirement.  Typically, companies will match, up to a certain percentage, of whatever you contribute on a pre-tax basis.

You can read up on the details of a 401k here.

Sign-up for Health, Dental, and Vision Insurance

If the costs aren’t prohibitively high, you should consider enrolling in your employer’s healthcare plan.

Review the options they provide you when you first start and determine which plan is right for you.

Though you may feel like you don’t need it, a single accident, injury, or sickness could cost you thousands out-of-pocket.

Take Life Advice from People Older Than You and Professional Advice from People in Your Industry

If I were to ask my parent’s what I do for a living, I’m not sure what their response would be.  You should be able to differentiate who you go to advice for.

When it comes to life advice and personal problems, family and friends can help a ton.  Professionally, though, it may be more worthwhile to go to someone who is in your industry and can provide exact details.

Learn the Software

Companies big-and-small rely on specific pieces of software in each industry.  Become an expert in those tools and applications and you’ll make your future much easier.

Email is King

In the corporate world, most communication is still done via email.  You should brush up on your emailing skills, which we’ve detailed here.

Use proper grammar and punctuation and don’t use text-speak.

Your emails are a reflection of your professional self, the better you are at being able to communicate effectively in emails, the better your chances of advancing your career.

Instant Message Platforms Are Your Friend

Many companies are integrating different instant messaging platforms into their work cycle.  Become familiar with these platforms but don’t forget that you should still be professional on them.

Assume You’re Being Monitored

More-and-more companies are installing software which tracks their employees’ laptops and computers.  Only use your work device for work.  All personal needs should be used on your personal devices.

Save for a Rainy Day

Getting paid every two-weeks is great, but you never know what can happen.  Always save a percentage of your paycheck in a savings account and don’t touch it.

Get Comfortable with Phone Calls

So much of business is about personal relationships.  You should get used to being on the phone and speaking to colleagues and clients.

Send Follow-Ups

Corporate loves follow-ups.  Follow-ups can be used to confirm what was agreed upon or discussed on a call, in a meeting, or in-person.  It allows for you to keep track of promises and to keep everyone honest.

Always send follow-ups and you’ll be covered in case something goes wrong.

Don’t Get Involved with Gossip

This is a professional environment.  Gossip won’t help you advance in your career so don’t get involved with it.

Watch Your Social Media Posts

Don’t ever post anything work related on social media platforms.  In addition, don’t post anything rude, obscene, or unflattering on social media.

You never know how it may get back to your manager and the repercussions it can have.

Also, if you have coworkers on social media, be careful to not post anything that could offend them or risk your job.

Don’t Let Your Work Become Your Identity

Find your passion and hobbies in something other than work.  Continue to enjoy life outside of work so you don’t feel burnt-out from it.

Keep A Good Attitude at All Times

People respect people who can remain calm in the face of chaos or change.  No matter what, keep a calm, reserved, professional attitude at all times.

Your Degree Doesn’t Mean Too Much

This may come as a surprise to many, but a degree is useful for opening doors and getting your foot in.  Once you’re employed with a company, it’s about the quality of your work and your ability to get it done.

Don’t think that a degree guarantees you career advancement.

Maintain A Work-Life Balance

Keep work-for-work and personal-for-personal.  You shouldn’t be working all hours of the day and should strive to maintain a healthy balance between the two.

Take Care of Your Health

Drink plenty of water and exercise regularly.  Get up from your chair and start a conversation with coworkers.  Eat healthy and bring in healthy snacks.  You may be seated for most of the day so you should take care of your body where you can.

Build Your Network from Day-One

Networking is just as important as your work quality.  Build and maintain a friendly rapport with your coworkers.

Take Detailed Notes

Everything said in training or in a meeting may one day be useful.  Take detailed notes and save yourself the trouble of not knowing in the future.

Take Initiative

Be a go-getter.  Jump into projects and tasks that are floating around.  Find ways to make processes and your coworkers lives better.

Ask your manager how you can help and volunteer to do so if they ask.

Keep yourself busy and valuable!

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