Starting a new job as a college graduate is a lot like skydiving. Just as you know what’s coming after suiting up and climbing to 13,000 feet before your jump, you know the hypotheticals of what’s going to happen after accepting a new job and finishing the interview process. But, when it comes time to step off the flight deck into the clouds––or show up on your first day of work––there’s a whole lot that happens before your feet finally touch the ground again.
“The first three months of any new job are an extension of the interview process,” says Amanda Augustine, career expert at TheLadders, in an interview with Business Insider. “From the first day, you need to be on your game.”
For entry-level employees, this can be especially daunting if they’re surrounded by more experienced coworkers.
Here are six best practices that will help younger employees win over more seasoned office mates:
1. Be time-conscious
Cliche as it may be, the simple advice to “be on time” is still a standby rule of thumb when it comes to impressing your coworkers.
According to The Muse, “Being chronically late…sends the message that whatever you’re doing is simply more important than the task at hand—and that your time is more valuable than everyone else’s.”
While this doesn’t mean that you can’t ever show up two minutes after 8 a.m. or drop what you’re doing to answer an urgent phone call, it’s important to make a concerted effort to be on-time (or even early!) to work and meetings, and respond quickly to emails, texts, calls or team messages. Meet deadlines you’ve committed to. If you can’t, let your manager know beforehand.
2. Ask questions
During your first few weeks, there will be a lot of things you don’t understand. Instead of biting your tongue, ask for clarification. In the long run, even simple questions will help you clarify what you’re supposed to do, save you time and help you do your job better.
“The way you say things is so important those first couple of weeks,” says Michelle Kennington, public relations graduate and Research Analyst Intern at Edelman Intelligence. “The more positive and team oriented you can make your questions, the more productive it is and the better it makes you look.”
“I had lunch with another connection I had made during my first week on the job,” Kennington continued. “When I talked with my boss, I phrased it as ‘I have an appointment, it may go longer than the hour at lunch, but I’ll make up the time.’ That was way different than saying, ‘I’m not going to be here for an hour and a half, I have something.’”
3. Prepare for meetings
Even if you don’t know what’s going on in a meeting you’re invited to, spend time beforehand getting ready. According to Inc.com, meetings only tank when people show up unprepared. Researching attendees, reading up on the topic and thinking about takeaways before the appointment will help you keep your team on track and allow you to actively contribute to the discussion.
4. Be involved
Aside from volunteering for extra projects, there are countless ways to bond with your team and immerse yourself in the company culture. Forbes.com suggests finding or establishing simple traditions, such as trying a new restaurant every Wednesday or starting a low-key book club.
Kennington also mentioned that regardless of the activity, the time you spend with your coworkers will strengthen your connection to them.
“I don’t drink,” she explained, “but I’ve been to a few happy hours with my team just to show them that I’m committed.”
5. Be genuinely interested in people’s lives
It can be hard to find time during a busy workday to get to know someone, but connecting with your co-workers can help you enjoy work and be more effective in your role.
Entrepreneur suggests asking people questions, adding them on social media and trying to remember what’s important to them.
“I spent a lot of time going up and introducing myself,” Kennington mentioned. “In life, people would love to ask you a billion questions about yourself, but at work, there’s not always time.
6. Follow Your Gut
If you notice something unethical happening in your workplace soon after beginning your position, figure out if you need to say something and if you want to continue working there. This same principle applies when developing a new campaign or messaging system. “If you have a gut feeling that something isn’t quite right, that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to abort work,” says Kennington. “But, it is important to proceed with caution if you feel something is a little off.”
Regardless of what company you’re working for, the first few weeks of any new job will likely be an exhilarating ride while you figure out how to work with your new team. So, as you’re suiting up to jump, keep these tips in mind and get ready to enjoy the view.
Written by Katie Monson