You’ve graduated from college and are launching a new career in tech. Congratulations!
You made it through commencement speeches that probably left you feeling inspired when you first heard them, but that you can barely remember today. Now, you’re starting your first job. You want to do a good job. What do you have to do to make that happen? What do you really need to know—and do—to be successful in your first job?
Not an easy question to answer, but the response may be simple.
At a recent LinkedIn Live on the top financial services companies for tech talent hosted by Everest Group, Karl Sprules, Global Head of Technology and Operations at Alliance Bernstein, was asked the question:
What advice would you give new talent that’s entering the workforce?
Sprules didn’t hesitate in his response. He said:
What part of the company’s culture resonates with you? That’s important, because culture drives all the people you meet and what they do. If you don’t know what that is, you may not know what you are getting yourself into.
Most important, find a role that’s aligned with what you’re good at, not what you like to do. If you are good at something, people will respond, you will get better and can start to build upon that.
Find people who can help you, mentors, managers, people who have done it already. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. When you are able, help others.
In the workplace in general, never take anything personally. Things don’t always go your way. You may not have all the facts. If you feel an injustice has been done to you, go home, reset and come back the next day. I’ve seen careers go every which way because someone took something personally. Remember, the focus is not always on you. It could be something else.
I love these! They make sense to me, and if you think about it, Sprules provides practical advice not only for being your best self in the workplace, but also for living a good life. I gave this idea of sharing advice for new employees some thought and came up with some of my own:
My advice for recent grads and others entering the workforce: Be a good person. Don’t forget the principles, values and beliefs that you’ve been taught, that have gotten you this far in life.
Having an education can be valuable, but the lesson I hope you learned is again simple. For education it’s a series of tasks you’re assigned that must be completed. You cannot give up on them. That’s what work is, a series of tasks you’re assigned that must be completed. You cannot give up on them.
In school, you were graded on how well you did on those tasks. The goal is to get an A, but remember the greatest lessons can also come from failure. So, don’t be afraid to fail. Stop trying to do everything right, just do it. When you embrace that mindset, it’s incredibly freeing.
You don’t have all the answers. But what you do have is intuition, feelings, thoughts that will guide you to the right outcome. And if you do something in the best interest of the people around you, you will do good things.
I wish someone had told me when I was first starting out, not to take myself so seriously. We all worry too much, about things we think are going to happen. But those scenarios we create in our head are typically all made up. They don’t generally come to fruition. Somehow, some way, everything always works out. So, stop worrying. Find your “Why” and allow that to guide you.
You’ve got everything going for you, except for real-world work experience in the job you’ve accepted. The only way to get that is by sitting in the seat and being willing to play full out. Talk to your manager, tell them that you are as green as the grass and that you will make mistakes. But also tell them that you will make a mistake only once, and that you will learn from your mistakes. Ask for their patience and promise to be the hardest worker in the room and to give all you have. That’s it. That’s all you can do. Good luck at your first job!