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Setting Goals For Your New Job Matters.
After your hard work earlier this year in landing a great summer job (co-op, internship or summer term), it’s now time to get ready for your first day! The work doesn’t stop after landing it. It’s time to start thinking about what you want to get out of it (that is, more than just a pay cheque hopefully). Though these tips are designed for our student audience, they can be applied to anyone starting a new job.
A lot of employers will be ready for your first day. You’ll have a workspace, a computer, sometimes a phone, potentially a buddy and an orientation session. Before you know it, you’ll be working on tasks and assignments and not always have time to think about what needs to be completed at the end of the term, in order to call your summer job “a success”.
Build a Plan to Maximize Your New Job With These 5 Tips:
Below I have the listed the 5 key areas I believe are critical to think about before you start:
1. Set Your Own Goals
Know what you need to get out of your term in order for you to support your education. Is it a technical skill? Application of certain programs or theoretical models, exposure, number of hours logged, etc?
Make sure you are able to clearly articulate what you need to accomplish, how you think this could be done, how much time or effort this would take and what resources this might require. More importantly, you don’t want to miss the boat on specific educational requirements and once your term is over, there are no “do overs”.
If you are going to need support (time, resources, etc.) you’ll need to review and discuss with your supervisor in your first few weeks of your term to make sure you secure the support needed and can meet your objectives. Tackling this early on will also allow you to identify any potential challenges and set your summer job up for success.
2. Be Clear On Your Deliverables
Make sure you understand what your supervisor expects so you can deliver it successfully.
If your supervisor does not schedule a meeting with you to review your deliverables, I would highly recommend you ask for a expectation setting meeting. This might be slightly intimidating but, think of this, setting the right stage and being on the same page with your supervisor will prevent any misunderstandings and misinterpretation at the end of the term.
Don’t wait for them to make this happen. Set yourself up for success! Read HERE for more tips on goals setting.
3. Actively Ask For Feedback
If you want to truly learn, ask for feedback!
Scary? Yes – you’ll really have to be open-minded, non-defensive and willing to listen. The benefit is that you’ll really be able to gauge your mastery of a skill, understanding of a certain situation, and your ability to complete a task successfully, etc.
Remember, giving feedback can be equally as hard as receiving feedback. If you ask for feedback, be respectful, listen, and thank people for supporting your growth. If you don’t, no one will want to put themselves out there for you longer term.
Sometimes your supervisor might schedule sessions with you regularly to discuss progress and performance – this is an excellent opportunity to ask for feedback if not given. (Supervisors, read tips on giving feedback that stretches your employees HERE). Remember however, feedback can come from many different directions so don’t just focus on it coming from your supervisor.
4. Build Your Personal Brand
I am sure you’ve heard about the importance of a “personal brand”; if not, my very simplistic translation is, “personal branding = what others think of you when they hear your name”.
This is where you need to think about how you would like to be perceived or known for in the workplace. Are you the reliable one, the responsive one, the helpful one, the “hard work’ one, etc. Of course, there are also less flattering perceptions that are out there.
Brands are built through consistent marketing, so the more consistent your behavior, the more you build your brand (again very simplistically spoken).
Understand that perceptions can be created quickly. It’s important to learn about common and acceptable behaviors in your new environment to figure out how you’d like to work. Remember, there is no real right or wrong here- it is about best fit. You might want different things from work than your new gig offers – this is learning too!
5. Network, Network, Network
Connections make the world go round! Most work environments are social environments and connections matter.
Through a strong network you’ll be able to expand your knowledge, increase your sources of information, expand your support network etc. If not offered at your work place, ask who’s in your immediate network (those people you would work with directly or who’s work influences your work or vice versa) and make sure you set up brief introductions.
Participate in social events during work or outside of work (even if this takes “extra” time, the benefits are usually worth it!). Getting to know colleagues outside of the regular work interactions and have them get to know you allows for easier work relationships and will benefit you enormously both during your term as well as later on if you are able to invest time and translate these connections to longer term relationships. Read 5 tips on building professional relationships with your new colleagues HERE.
Be Thoughtful About Your Presence:
Now that you are starting your professional career, you have options about your approach. Regardless of your preference for level of planning and preparation, keep the above in mind – you’ll have so much on the go, so many new experiences to process and 4 months will be gone in the blink of an eye.
I hope at minimum I can inspire you to think about what “success” for you would look like at the end of the term!
Let’s hear from you – what has helped you make the most out of your term?