Ready, Set, Work
By Nancy Barry
Author of When Reality Hits: What Employers Want Recent College Graduates to Know
On your first day of work, you’ll be excited and nervous at the same time. You’ll wonder if you should have stayed in school and earned one more degree. You’ll wonder if this is the right job for you. Those of you who have already started your careers know what I’m talking about. Let me tell you, you’ll have these same feelings every time you start a new job, from now until the day you retire.
Whether it’s your first job out of college or one you’ll take ten years from now, it takes about ninety days to get in your comfort zone. It takes time to meet the people, learn the culture, and find out who does what. Be patient. In those first ninety days, you may start thinking, “What made me think I could do this job?” You can do it, or they wouldn’t have hired you.
After you’ve had a chance to settle into your new job, ask to meet with your boss. Tell her you’d like to meet to make sure you completely understand her expectations. Explain that you want to be sure you meet these expectations, and, hopefully, exceed them.
If your manager looks at you like you’re crazy, it’s only because you may be the first person who’s ever done this. Here’s what you’ll want to ask your boss.
• In general terms, what are your expectations? (If you don’t already have a copy of your job description, ask for one.)
• What’s your preferred form of communication (in-person, e-mail, telephone)?
• How would you like me to keep you informed? Do you prefer detailed updates or bullet-point summaries?
• What drives you crazy? (So you can avoid doing it.)
• What’s your management style?
• What can I do to make your life easier?
• A month from now, how will I know if I’m going a good job?
If you can learn all this information in the first couple of weeks on the job, you’re going to be able to meet and hopefully exceed your manager’s expectations. And if you make meeting and exceeding their expectations your ultimate goal, you’re going to have an amazing career!
I’d love to hear from you. Please send me an email, firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know what’s on your mind. What topics would you like me to cover in future columns?
~ Nancy Barry
Recent College Graduate Expert, Campus Calm