workDid you just land your first job out of college? You’re probably excited and proud – and you should be. But you’re probably also nervous to set foot into the professional realm for the first time. Don’t be. Everyone has to start somewhere. Every workplace is a little different but when it boils down to it, we all face the same set of challenges at a new job. You’ll probably need to start at the bottom of the totem pole even if you’re an experienced worker. And integrating yourself into the company culture is a lot harder than you think. Keeping your expectations in check is a good place to start. Whether you’re straight out of college or starting a new career path, that first job can be scary. You might think you know the ropes, but it’s about a lot more than just getting your work done. Here are a few tips that nobody tells you about in school that will prep you for your first real job. Accept your newbie status When you’re just out of college, it’s easy to get a big head about what you can do in the workplace. Unfortunately, chances are you’ll need to make coffee for a while before you’re given any real responsibility. This means you need to show off your work ethic even if you’re stuck doing tasks you don’t like. It might sound like simply paying your dues, but it’s easy to get a little full of yourself when you first start a job. Revel in working hard no matter what the job is. You might be smart and clever, but a solid work ethic is the main thing that’ll separate you from all the other viable candidates. Stay organised and don’t miss deadlines Your new career is probably nothing like school or any other job you’ve ever had. That means the organisation principles you used in the past may not be any good to you now. Being on time, getting your work done and keeping it all together is incredibly important at a new job. In a lot of careers, your boss isn’t really going to notice you at first unless you’re doing something horribly wrong. Being on time every day, keeping your desk clean and doing your job ensures they won’t single you out right away as being unproductive. You can worry about standing out later. At first you just need to get your work done as efficiently as possible. Pay attention to company culture Every company is different, and fitting in is increasingly important when hundreds (if not thousands) of other people want your job. While you don’t need to go out of your way to change your personality for an employer, you should make an effort to meet everyone as quickly as possible. Introducing yourself around the office is certainly a good start. You can also start by having lunch with your colleagues. You don’t need to literally eat lunch with everyone. The goal is to make a good impression with various people around the company and learn as much as you can. Making friends is the easiest way to do that. Ask questions One thing you likely learned in college that carries to the real world: asking questions is important. Your boss and coworkers want nothing more than for you to do your job correctly. The best way to do that is to ask questions when you’re starting out. It doesn’t matter if you’re supposed to sell used cars or sort out travel documents. Ask yourself (and maybe coworkers) the question, “What are pre owned cars?” or “What is the best selling technique”? Then take it from there. Be sure you actively listen to the answers and ask for follow up questions to avoid miscommunication. If you’re still not entirely certain you’re doing a project right, give your boss simple progress reports that outline where you’re at. That way, your boss can steer you back on track if you get lost. Watch for burnout It’s remarkably easy to get caught up in moving your career forward when you’re first starting out. Regardless of how young you are, this eventually leads to burnout, which mean you end up doing your job poorly. It might seem like you need an exciting attitude at a new job to really get ahead, but your productivity and creativity can suffer when you work long hours, so it’ll do more harm than good. It’s a fine balance between maintaining a consistent work ethic, being reliable and still giving yourself the time off you need to survive. Your first job isn’t only about showing that you can get the job done, it’s also about forming connections and learning as many tricks of the trade as possible. This likely won’t be your last job and the more you can take away from it the better.