The moment when you finally find yourself starting your career is nothing but exhilarating.
It’s so exciting when you are able to take that step into starting your career and educational goals—a step where you begin to launch the rest of your life.
It’s also completely terrifying.
You start to ask yourself all the basic questions: Will I do a good job? Am I really cut out for this career? I get it—you’re worried about failing miserably. And hey, I’ve been there too. We all have.
Beyond the excitement of starting your career, there’s suddenly a new anxiety resting in your mind that reminds you that a career is much different than a job.
I’m here to help cure that anxiety. So here’s a few tips when starting your career:
1. Don’t be too hard on yourself.
When I started my first job in my field, I was extremely hard on myself. I never thought I was working hard enough, and I felt like I was constantly behind. I promise you, you’re working hard enough and you’re not behind! It’s completely normal to take time to understand the company you’re with and to learn their pace. No job is the same, so remember that it’s okay if you’re doing things a bit differently in your new position.
2. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
Like I said, it takes time to understand a company, especially a larger corporation. My first real, big girl job was at a large corporation, and I had never felt so confused in my life. I was terrified to ask questions because I was worried that it would make me look incapable. Here’s a tip–you’ll look more incapable when you don’t understand what’s going on because you didn’t ask.
3. Take time to learn the company’s operations.
This is so important. Every company has a specific way it’s organized. It’ll be helpful down the road if you spend time learning all of the applications and tools they use. If you can master those, it’s a great start.
4. Connect with others.
Don’t be the shy newbie! Even if you just say hi when walking past someone, it shows you’re approachable. Any time you have the opportunity to talk to someone new, take it. Shake their hand and introduce yourself. This will come in handy when you need someone’s help later.
5. Check in with your boss or supervisor.
Around the one-month mark, I like to ask my supervisor to meet for a check in. I use this time to say, “I’ve been here for about a month now, so I wanted to take the time to check in with you and make sure I’m meeting your expectations.”
From there, a conversation will open up and you can make sure you and your boss are working toward the same goals.
6. Offer ideas and suggestions, but don’t push.
Any boss appreciates a self-starter. If you think of an idea that you think will better the company or a project, don’t be afraid to bring it up in a way that sounds like a suggestion and not a need. It’s great if you can be innovative, but not if you’re pushy.
7. Find your boundaries.
When you’re starting a new job, it can take some time to completely understand what your role is with the company. At first, it’s going to feel like you have nothing to do. Use this time to mention to your supervisor in a subtle way other projects that you’re interested in.
There are two responses to this. Either your supervisor will agree that it’s a good project for you to start doing, or they’ll straight up tell you that there’s someone else who already does that so you don’t need to. This is a great way to find out exactly where your position stretches and limits.
8. Don’t expect positive feedback all the time.
This was one of my biggest challenges coming right from post-secondary to my career. I was so used to having professors in school comment nice things about my work that I’d go home feeling like I’d accomplished something worthwhile.
In your career, your boss doesn’t have time to tell you that everything you do is brilliant. If you don’t hear anything back, don’t worry. They’ll tell you if something isn’t right, so don’t let a lack of positive feedback bring you down.
9. Don’t be afraid to admit it to yourself if it’s not working out.
I never understood the idea of “not being a good fit” for a job until I was in the field. Truth be told, sometimes you’re just not cut out for the company. Don’t take it to heart; it’s not that you are incapable of the job, but maybe you just don’t work well with the environment that company has, and that’s okay!
If this happens, you’ll feel it too. Don’t be afraid to admit it to yourself if you’re not loving it and if you’re not excited to be there every day. Just apply elsewhere and find that place that works for you. It’s better to leave sooner and spend more time with the proper company for you.
10. Calm down!
Relax and take a deep breath. You are going to be fine in your career, and you’re more prepared than you think. Just know that you’re doing your best and that’s all you can promise yourself. So enjoy your start in your career now—it’s a great learning experience and will lead to better positions down the road!
Previously Published on Thought Catalog