Landed a job, now what? Advice from the Pros

image source: http://www.rottenecards.com/card/224333/first-day-on-new-jobwhos-go

image source: http://www.rottenecards.com/card/224333/first-day-on-new-jobwhos-go

This post was written by Emily Brown, a regular contributor to The Works and a graduate student in the College Student Development and Counseling program at Northeastern University. She is also a Career Development Intern.

Starting a new job or co-op can be nerve-wracking.  It takes time to get a feel for the company culture and to figure out daily operations. As much as you want to find your place in a new company, you also want to make a good impression with new coworkers. I adapted some advice from LinkedIn’s “Best Advice” series and reached out to professionals for their tips on what will make someone a desired employee. While some might seem obvious, they are a good reminder that everything we do at work contributes to the reputation we build.

  • Everything you do and say reflects on the company.
  • Being positive, upbeat and responsive at all times reflects well on both the employee and the employer.
  • In a competitive work environment, going the extra mile, making the extra effort means all the difference in winning new work or retaining old clients.
  • Don’t rely so much on e-mail for communication especially if it is sensitive material.
  • Don’t text or e-mail in meetings – put your phone on silent mode and put it away.
  • Be prompt – show up on time (to work and to meetings).
  • Always make deadlines.
  • Don’t underestimate how important good writing skills are – it is a lost art!
  • Always proofread what you produce and/or ask a colleague with good grammar skills to look at it (especially if it is going to be widely circulated).
  • Don’t be afraid to say I don’t know – but also say you will find the answer.
  • Always follow through- even if it’s just to say you don’t have the answer yet.
  • Use proper grammar and speak correctly and clearly on the phone.
  • When adjourning from meetings, make sure you have a clear idea about what action items you are responsible for and what the deadlines associated with those items are.
  • Whatever you do, do it the best you can, even if it’s getting coffee.
  • Always bring a notepad when you meet with someone.
  • Make sure you communicate effectively about projects that are your responsibility. Be honest about what you have time to do.
  • Don’t leave the printer/copier jammed!
  • You can never redo a first impression.  First impressions include any time you work with someone for the first time even if you’ve been at that company for a while.
  • Listen twice as much as you speak.

After just a few weeks on the job, you’ll likely have your own tips to add to this list! When you become the pro, remember how it felt to be new and keep in mind that sharing little tips (especially on how to unjam that finicky copy machine) with new hires will be appreciated.

Emily Brown is a Career Development intern and a graduate student in Northeastern’s College Student Development and Counseling Program. She is a lifelong Bostonian interested in the integration of social media into the professional realm.  Contact her at e.brown@neu.edu.

First Impressions: Make the Most of your First Week

Looking good? Check. source: blogs.fit.edu

Looking good? Check.
source: blogs.fit.edu

This article was written by Lindsey Sampson, a 3rd year international affairs student at NU as a regular student contributor for The Works. Follow her blog here and/or tweet her @lindseygsampson

The beginning of co-op is upon us, which means it’s time for new introductions. Your first week is going to be overwhelming; you will meet too many people, learn all about your new responsibilities, and you will feel like it can’t possibly only be 10am. Don’t worry – you got this. Here are a few tips to make the most of your first week.

Never eat alone: This is the time to introduce yourself. Get lunch with your department or go on a coffee run with the nice lady you just met from marketing—meet everyone you can. Your job will be much more enjoyable once you make some friends, so why put it off?

Don’t walk in like you own the place: During your first week, air on the side of saying less rather than saying too much. You will provide a fresh set of eyes for looking at systems and processes. Your suggestions will be valuable, but store up some ideas and save them for when you have a better idea of how the company works.

dilbert-remember-name-620x278

Don’t call your boss Mary when her name is Kate: A magical amnesia wave washes over me during introductions. I am so focused on shaking hands and telling the other person my name that I completely forget to pay attention to their name. Immediately after they tell me, I have already long forgotten. Save yourself the embarrassment by paying attention during introductions. During your first week, avoid using the phrase, “I’m not good with names.” No one is good with names. The only way to get good at names is by consciously focusing during introductions. Sometimes you’ll blow it, but hey, it’s the first week.

Meet with your boss: Or better yet, your boss’s boss. Take time your first week to discuss the company’s goals and how you fit within the larger goals of the company. Knowing not only your responsibilities, but the responsibilities of those above will allow you to go above and beyond from the beginning in a noticeable and productive way. This puts you in a great position for a raise down the road (but let’s not get ahead of ourselves).

Most of all, don’t worry. Your first week and the many first impressions will be intimidating, but you will get used to everything and you will learn your co-worker’s name and, with no warning at all, you will get to your desk one morning and realize you’re thriving. It’s co-op season, so let’s make it happen.

Lindsey Sampson is a middler International Affairs major with minors in Social Entrepreneurship and Writing. She enjoys writing about Millennials in the workplace and social media as a marketing tool. Follow her blog here and/or tweet her @lindseygsampson.

Two Ways To Get Off To A Fast Start At Work

Set the standard! Source: tofurious.com

Set the standard!
Source: tofurious.com

The guest post for The Works was written by 2012 NU communication studies alum, Chris Garland. Since then, he’s worked as a Corporate Trainer for both Sysco Foods and Halliburton Energy Services, where he flies around the country supporting thousands of employees. His work mostly deals in Corporate Training and Change Management.  

Barely a month after graduation, I flew to the middle of nowhere Alabama – by Alabama standards – to support a local Sysco Foods’ office in implementing a new sales platform.  Did I feel ready to support and advise them?  The answer didn’t really matter.  What mattered was that I learned how to make myself a valuable resource for them.  I learned how to get off to a great start.   If I didn’t, I was nothing more than an Independent Contractor, who could easily be fired at a moment’s notice without even the requirement of a reason.

Now that I’m on my third project as a Corporate Trainer, I’ve learned just how important it is to get off to a great start at work.  The two ways I shared  can be easily adopted and used in your own careers, co-ops, and anything else you may pursue in your professional life.

#1: Set A Benchmark

We’ve all had assignments that restrict us to completing them in specific ways, i.e. 10 pages, APA format, 5 sources, 7-minute speech with a PowerPoint, rubbing your stomach and head with different hands while standing on one leg, etc.  How often have we been asked to complete an assignment with no standard way of doing it?

When you start a new job, chances are you will be asked to do tasks that have no benchmark.  Each predecessor before you probably whipped together their own version of completing whatever assigned work task, and while each version may have been completely satisfactory work, they weren’t done to the point that a standard was a set. Be the one to set that standard.

My first job after graduation I was contracted to work on a Corporate Training team with Bluewolf for Sysco Foods.  Bluewolf was finishing up a Salesforce.com implementation and my Project Manager asked me to work on a tip sheet for their new custom developed mobile version of the application.  This app would not be taught in a class like the web version, but it would be used by thousands of sales employees throughout the United States.  A simple tip sheet would have been enough to do the job, but instead, I made a full-blown user guide.  I made sure to receive feedback from employees that would use the guide as well as the developer that created the app to ensure it was not just an abundance of information thrown on a page, but something that was user friendly.  I can honestly say I put 100% into that assignment.

A couple of weeks later, I was contacted by a Bluewolf employee asking me for the non-PDF version of the guide for Bluewolf to use for two reasons.  The first one was no surprise as they wanted to use the guide as a template for future use.  The second reason was for something I did not expect.  They wanted to use the guide as an example of work that can be provided during sales meetings with new clients.

#2: Become A Subject Matter Expert

Think about some of the smartest, most insightful teachers you have ever had throughout your college career.  They challenge their classes to ask question after question and to critically think about the topic at hand.  Occasionally, the discussion reaches the inevitable point where the teacher just does not know the answer.

When you start a new job, you are bound to ask questions – I honestly don’t think there is such a thing as too many questions or stupid questions – and if you ask enough, you may eventually venture into subjects no one has the answers to.  Become the Subject Matter Expert.

I recently started a second project with Halliburton – yes, that Dick Cheney company – and from day one I was asking multiple trainers question after question to learn how the new application I would soon be training worked.  Eventually I found an area of the application that no trainers had learned how to use yet.  I made it my goal to figure out this functionality of the application, which led to me meeting with one of the developers to discuss all of the intricacies from a software standpoint and a training perspective.  Before long, I became the local Subject Matter Expert for all of the other trainers to learn about this topic.  So while I only recently joined my team, I was already able to become a valuable resource for both my colleagues as well as my project managers.

Setting a Benchmark and Becoming a Subject Matter Expert are both ways to get off to a great start in a new position.  However, when I started brainstorming and listing every single way to get off to a great start I could think of, they all had one simple thing in common.  They are all about taking the initiative.

Chris Garland graduated from Northeastern back in Spring 2012 with a Communications degree.   Since then, he’s worked as a Corporate Trainer for both Sysco Foods and Halliburton Energy Services, where he flies around the country every week to support thousands of employees in places that have ranged from Denver and Los Angeles to Des Moines, Iowa – where “I had such a great BBQ sandwich that I almost finished eating it without even realizing I didn’t put on any of the provided BBQ sauce on.” His work mostly deals in Corporate Training, Change Management, and finding cool new places in cities he’s never been to.  Reach out to him via email at garland9.c@gmail.com.

In a New York state of mind…

City Spot NYC

Allison Walker has been working at BWR Public Relations in an exciting, fast-paced internship in the Big Apple for the past few months.  Despite the high cost of living, (a standard movie-ticket will cost you $13.50!) and despite the fact that NY is home to some of Boston’s biggest sport rivals (the Yankees), Allison has thoroughly enjoyed her internship and time so far in NYC.  She was kind enough to give me the inside scoop on her internship, her viewpoint of NYC, and advice for any Husky who is looking to intern there.

Ashley LoBue (AL): What type of public relations does BWR Public Relations do?

Allison Walker (AW): BWR Public Relations is a celebrity PR company that works on the talent side, so we do celebrity PR, but we also do events for corporations.  

(AL): Tell me a little bit about what you do day-to-day as a public relations intern.

(AW):  Well the good news is that I never have to get coffee! It’s great because I get to do minimum “intern” work. In the beginning I had to do some photocopying, and I was charged with updating both electric and binder press kits for clients, but then I started getting more responsibility as the internship went on, which was really cool.  I was given the opportunity to work NYC Fashion week, where I created client schedules, booked them for shows, and acted as their informal “body guard” during shows. So, I basically managed their interviews and any interactions they had with the press and photographers.  I also got to go to the DKNY birthday party and made sure the clients were situated there and helped my supervisors create client schedules and looks for the Emmys.  I’m really excited that I get to go to these types of different events (I go by myself or with a publicist) to make sure that everything is going according to plan for different BWR clients.  

 (AL): So now I know a little bit about what you do and what you enjoy as part of the internship.  What do you find challenging?

(AW): Sometimes the work hours are challenging. For Fashion Week, I had to work all day and into the night to coordinate everything and make sure everything was going smoothly.

(AL): Could you take me through the process of how you got your position in NYC?

(AW): I got the interview through the co-op system! It’s the first time they are doing co-op. I interviewed with them at their office in NYC. It’s best to go to interviews in person unless it’s really difficult to get there.

(AL): Do you have any advice for students that want to work in PR?

(AW): Well, I do have a really big background in entertainment PR and film, and I’ve also done music PR, which probably made it easier for me to land this internship.  They are looking for someone who is really outgoing and is not just going to just sit in the back corner and wait for someone to tell them what to do.  They like people who can take initiative and ask, “What do you need? I can do this.” PR needs a type of person who can put him or herself out there. So, my advice is to be confident and let people see your willingness to work hard and passion for the industry.

(AL): What are some of the major differences between living in Boston vs. living in NYC?

(AW): NYC is a lot more expensive than Boston and a lot more fast-paced and cut throat than Boston.  People think,” oh that’s not true, it’s just a rumor”, but it’s so true.  Honestly, everyone has either done what you’ve done or done more, but that makes you more driven and makes you want to try harder, which is one of my favorite things about the city.  NY is a perfect place to start a career or intern because it makes you ready for anything and made me into a super intern.  Boston is a great place to intern, but NY has made me excited, driven and competitive. NYC is one of my favorite places, so I might be biased, but I definitely recommend for anyone to intern here at least once.

 (AL): What do you want to do post-graduation?

(AW): I do like celebrity PR– it’s fun, exciting and I get to do a lot of fun stuff.  I’m not sure though.  I think maybe something in the entertainment field because I like that environment.  Journalism or public relations is probably where I’m going to end up.

(AL): And finally, what is your favorite food in NYC?

(AW): That’s a tough one. Probably the 24 hour diners!

Ashley LoBue is a Career Advisor and The Works’ City Spotlight corespondent  If you want to be featured as a City Spotlight, or know somebody who should, contact her at a.lobue@neu.edu.