Be Professional

You've crossed the stage on the Venable lawn, and you're even heading off to a new job.  But how are you going to be a successful professional?

Starting any new opportunity is a nerve racking time, because there's so much on your mind.  Not only the job you have been hired for, but the people, the location, and the sense of "will I do well?"  Here are some very important criteria to pay attention to as you start your new opportunity

  1. Your first year on the job is different, and you need to adjust your expectations.  While many new graduates dream of arriving at organizations and making an immediate impact, few actually do that. Your mother may have admonished you that you have two ears and one mouth, so use them accordingly.  That's exactly what you need to do on the job.  Your expectations should be focused around getting to know people, understanding the organizational culture, and excelling at your work.  Trust us, there will be opportunity to make significant contributions in the future.
  2. Dressing the part is more important than ever.  Adhering to a dress code, even if it's an informal or unpublished one, shows that you respect the organizational culture and that you take yourself seriously.  Graduation is a great time to invest in the appropriate wardrobe that you'll need.
  3. Ask questions and ask for help early!  While you should make a serious effort to discover answers yourself first, asking questions only helps you gain knowledge, and portrays you to others as someone who is engaged with their work and is interested in making it the best it can be.
  4. Take initiative and be engaged.  You want to show that you are serious about this opportunity, and one of the easiest ways to do that is through showing up early or on time, staying late, and taking initiative to work on new projects.  Plan on doing that consistently throughout your first year, and you will have laid down a strong track record for the future. Another part of taking initiative is to track your performance.  No one else will do it for you, and your professional future depends on it.  Keep a separate document handy to add when you've completed major projects, made presentations, and executed on key deliverables.
  5. Keep your boss informed.  Ask what their expectations are for communication.  Will you have a regular meeting time to review your work?  Do they expect that you will include them in communications to specific people?  What can you do to ensure that your boss and your department will be successful?

Other Suggested Resources
From the Career Education Library

They Don't Teach Corporate In College, by Alexandra Levit
What Should I Do With My Life?, by Po Bronson
Career Distinction, by William Arruda and Kirsten Dixson
The Handbook of Style, by the editors of Esquire

Great online links

Your First Days Working at a New Job: 20 Tips to Help You Make A Great Impression
JobWeb Student Resources for Life on the Job

Hear What Employers Think About New Hires:

New Grads Part 1: The Employers' Perspective [Video]. (2007). Retrieved December 7, 2010, from

New Grads Part 2: The Employers' Perspective [Video]. (2007). Retrieved December 7, 2010, from