The transition from college student to young professional is not always smooth. Although a college education is invaluable in preparing to launch a career, four years of attending class in sweat pants does not necessarily prepare one for all aspects of joining the professional workforce.
I was lucky enough to be introduced to the professional world when I joined netlogx as an intern during the summer between my sophomore and junior years. After graduation, I joined the team full-time and subsequently took part in the Fast Track Program. I completed the program in October 2013 and have since transitioned into a Jr. Business Analyst role.
While I have a lot to learn still, my time as an Intern and Fast Track Associate helped me learn some valuable lessons:
- Dress professionally. Take the time to present yourself well. When you feel confident about what you are wearing, you will feel more confident in general.
- Listen and absorb as much information as you can. Your coworkers will have years of expertise; value it and pay attention to what they have to say.
- Treat every opportunity as a learning experience. Don’t stop at simply completing tasks; try to really understand what is going on. You will gain valuable subject matter expertise and strengthen your critical thinking skills.
- Attend any trainings offered. If you are given the opportunity to attend a training session, go! You never know what skills may come in handy.
- Read professional articles and books. I’ve been an avid reader my entire life but only recently started making a concerted effort to read articles and books related to professional topics. Reading gives you opportunities for fresh perspectives and allows you to stay on top of relevant topics in your field.
- If you don’t understand, ask. Every industry has its own set of terms and when you first start, it can feel like everyone else is speaking a different language. If you hear an acronym you aren’t familiar with, jot it down and ask a coworker. (For more on the language of netlogx, see WOTSTW (We are Off to See the Wizard and other acronyms))
- Speaking of acronyms, make a cheat sheet for yourself. Asking questions is great but a cheat sheet is a great way to keep common bits of knowledge easily accessible.
- Be a problem solver. Do some research independently to try to identify your own solutions. Asking questions is great but if you just need to know how to add a Table of Contents in Microsoft Word, a quick Google search may be faster.
- Communicate professionally. Written or oral, communication is important. Take the time to reread emails before you send them and make sure they are appropriate for your audience. If you have any “like” or “um” problems when you speak, make a conscious effort to break yourself of the habit. You’ll be able to communicate more effectively and you will sound more confident.
- Be positive. Try to look at the bright side. Stress is a part of any job but be positive and make a conscious effort to surround yourself with positive things. You’ll be happier and a positive attitude will work wonders for any situation!