7 Keys to Navigating Your First Job

You learn a lot in school.

You learn a hell of a lot more on the job.

Working life is drastically different from academic life in that the achievements are vague, you have more autonomy, and problems almost never have a right answer. Making the transition from college to your first job can be a challenge, but these seven keys helped me achieve some success during my first year working.

1. Learn everyone’s name

“A person’s name is to him or her the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” – Dale Carnegie.

It’s astonishing how few people actually know everyone’s name in the workplace. There are a multitude of tricks for remembering names, but really all it comes down to is being intentional about getting to know people and remembering their names. Knowing someone’s name will build incredible relational equity, help you make friends faster, and ultimately make you happier at work.

2. Figure out where you can add value

In your life, you can either create value or you can extract value. Most people extract value. Figure out how to create value, and you will be infinitely more successful. At the very beginning, it doesn’t really matter where you’re doing to create value because you’re learning what it means to create value for others, something that academic life doesn’t teach you how to do at all. Once you learn how to create some type of value, your next job is to figure out how to create value within the most valuable parts of the business you’re working in. Do this, and people will want to work with you.

3. Have an opinion

As a new hire, most people won’t expect you to do much. If you have an opinion, you’ll surprise people and they’ll start to respect you for having ideas.

4. Expect to be wrong about nearly everything

When you start forming those opinions, you’re going to be wrong. You’re going to have ideas that are terrible and make no sense because you have no experience. That’s fine. You have to accept that you know absolutely nothing given your lack of experience. The only way to gain that experience though is to apply yourself. So:

5. Say yes

When people need something, say yes. This is totally contradictory to the importance of saying “no” to things in order to build long term success, but you’re the new hire, so you aren’t in a position to say no yet. So say yes. If you don’t know how to do something, saying yes and getting involved will help you learn. You’ll start to build respect through your willingness to help others, and you’ll begin to actually build some skills.

6. Create a morning routine

Working life can be very monotonous. There’s a good chance you go to the office every day and need to be there at around the same time each morning. Build a morning routing so that you start each day relaxed, energized, and ready to crush it. Routines in general are hugely important, and your ability to create those routines throughout your day will be very powerful in making you productive and effective on the job. Master the morning first, then move on to other parts of the day. Having a set morning routine will also make it easier to:

7. Show up early

Showing up early will benefit you threefold: First, you’ll be perceived as a hard worker. Second, you’ll have time to get things done without the various interruptions of the day. Third, you’ll build relationships with the other people that come in early. Staying late doesn’t really have the same benefits because people don’t take as much note at who’s still in the office when they leave.

Transitions are hard, and the transition from school to work is probably one of the more difficult changes you’ve experienced at that point. Take it one day at a time. You’ll be just fine.

  • Jofray

    Great wisdom for a great work ethic. We’ll miss you this summer, Ian. Have a great trip. Oh. Make sure you have all the tools you need to take off your tire… I had to leave my motocycle in Ywoming cause I didn’t have a spare tube or a patch kit. Learned that lesson the hard way.

    • ianhusted

      Thanks Jordan! Turns out I definitely needed that advice… got a flat yesterday! Luckily I was in a town and could get it fixed. Won’t make that mistake again!