This post was written by Diane Ciarletta, Director of Northeastern University Career Development.
Starting a new co-op or full-time job can be a challenge. As the new kid on the block, you not only have to learn how to do the job, but also how to fit in with the company and make a strong impression. However, in most organizations, just being good at your job is not enough to get you noticed. If you want to turn your coop into a full time offer or get on your boss’s radar for a promotion, it is important to find effective ways to increase your visibility. You want your colleagues and manager to see you as a leader who adds value to the team and the company. As a manager, I have hired several interns into permanent positions. What differentiated them from the competition to win a coveted spot on our team?
Here are four ways you can make yourself stand out:
1. Go beyond your job description
View your job description as the minimum expectation and don’t ever be heard saying, “That’s not my job!” Spend your first few weeks observing others, asking questions and figuring out ways you can add value to your team. If you see something that needs to be done-take the initiative, bring it to your boss’ attention and offer your help. If you find a way to do something more efficiently, suggest it with a concrete plan. Step out of your comfort zone to learn a new skill or take on a project that no one else wants to do. Possess a Yes-I-can attitude. If you show a willingness to learn or try something that would be beneficial to the company-you will definitely be positioning yourself for success.
2. Manage your time well
If you want to stand out, it is critical that you be regarded as someone who gets things done and done well. Missing deadlines, or handing in a less-than-stellar project because you didn’t give yourself enough time to do it right is unacceptable. The ability to multi-task, i.e. managing competing projects simultaneously, is expected of most employees, and is critical for anyone who aspires to a leadership role. It is important to prioritize your time when it comes to completing projects in order to get them done on time. If you are unsure of which tasks to complete first, have a conversation with your supervisor to clarify expectations, and avoid potential problems in the future.
3. Speak up in meetings
The way you present yourself in meetings can have a big impact on your career. If you don’t let yourself be heard and never offer an opinion or comment, you may be giving off the impression that you are not invested. Even if you are more introverted and prefer to think things through before you speak, find ways to participate. When you do speak up, say your points succinctly and clearly. A great way to figure out how to become an effective speaker is by watching those who do it well. Meetings are where a lot of business gets done, and contributing your ideas publicly allows your boss and your peers to see you as a leader.
4. Ask for feedback and use it to improve
Getting feedback and constructive criticism from your peers and supervisor is one of the best ways to gauge your performance. If your manager offers unsolicited feedback about a perceived problem or mistake, don’t be defensive. Instead, take ownership and accountability and devise a strategy to address the problem. If your manager doesn’t volunteer performance feedback –ask for it-appropriately. You could request a regular one-to-one meeting to discuss problems, status updates and check-in about how you are doing. When you are seeking feedback, don’t ask, “How am I doing?” It’s too general and might not elicit specific, concrete suggestions. Instead, ask about the one-thing. For example, “What is one thing I could do to improve the way I…? If someone takes the time and effort to give you feedback make sure you demonstrate how you are using it to improve your performance.
Diane Ciarletta is the Director of the Career Development Team. She has been a Career Counselor for over 25 years and has hired and supervised many interns and professional staff.
Photo Source: Man Climbing Stairs