10 Tips for Success in Your First Graduate Job

The first year in a new role, at any stage of your career, can be intimidating; however, it can be particularly nerve-wracking if it is your first graduate job. In the following article, we offer some practical tips to help you avoid pitfalls and succeed in laying the foundations for your career.

1. Maintain your personal brand

“A good reputation is more valuable than money.” – Publilius Syrus

In the current dynamic and shifting job market, your personal brand is more valuable than ever. Building a reputation for being reliable, efficient and easy to communicate within your company and among your clients with will set you up for success in the long-term.

Always make the extra effort to meet your obligations – be timely for any meeting and submit work by the deadline. If you are struggling with your workload, or are running late, don’t ignore the problem. Ask for help and communicate with your team often.

Protect your reputation vociferously. The more you build your personal brand, the more opportunities will open up for you when you start your first graduate job.

2. Be a good team player

Teamwork is vital to your success in your first graduate job. It is not always easy to get used to the different working and learning styles of others, but the sooner you can adapt to a workplace, the easier life will be for you.

Working as a part of a team is a lifelong skill. There was a reason you were teamed up with people you didn’t always get along with or worked well with during your schooling. In the workplace, being able to adapt to new team dynamics can be the difference between success and failure.

3. Don’t be afraid to network

“Love, friendship and networking – these are all critical connections and the foundation of a healthy, happy life.” – Whitney Wolfe Herd

If you are the shy type, you might cringe at the idea of socialising[AG1] with people you don’t know, especially in a professional context. However, networking is vital part of professional life. Building your professional network will open opportunities.

Join a professional group, attend business events and get involved in internal social gatherings. You will meet a wide array of people with unique skill sets and experience. You never know what challenges you will face in your career and having a network to call on can be very useful. Likewise, if you make a good impression, others will think of you in future.

Remember to stay connected with your network too. It takes time to build up a network and effort to maintain one.

4. Take initiative

Be proactive in your first graduate job. Not only will it show your employers that you are willing to take on responsibility, but it is also an opportunity to challenge yourself.

If you notice a development opportunity, talk to your manager and express your interest in getting involved. If he or she says ‘no’, don’t worry. At least they know you are interested in future for similar opportunities.

5. Invite opportunities

Say ‘yes’ to opportunities that come your way. There is no obvious path when it comes to career progression. Think laterally when it comes to advancing your career.

That project that seemed a bit obtuse and irrelevant might have been the key to unlocking a new stage in your career. You never know where an opportunity will take you.

6. Patience is key

Unfortunately, young graduates have a reputation for being impulsive and unrealistic in their career expectations. Success does not happen overnight.

Focus on your professional development. Take the opportunity to learn as much as you can while you are at the start of your career. Do relevant industry training and enrol in online courses that will further your skill set.

7. Avoid your mobile

Recent graduates are often criticised for ‘always being on their phone’. Real or perceived, this is not the reputation you want when starting out.

8. Find a mentor in your field

Finding professional mentors within your industry can be invaluable. There are several organisations that match young professionals with senior mentors, including Mentoring Australia and Mentor Walks.

9. Push yourself

Just because you’ve finished studying doesn’t mean you should stop learning. Every day in your new graduate role is an opportunity to polish your existing skills and fill gaps in your knowledge.

To quote Jennifer Lopez, ‘You get what you give. What you put into things is what you get out of them.’

10. Ask for Help

Our last point is the most important. Often graduates are afraid to ask for help or acknowledge that they are overwhelmed. This is often a formula for disaster.

There are several challenges you might face in your first graduate job. You might be struggling with your current workload or you may have interpersonal workplace issues affecting your productivity. It is important that you communicate your concerns with your employer.

If you are falling behind with work, ask for some assistance. If you are running late to a meeting, call someone to let them know. If you feel bullied or harassed — especially if you feel bullied or harassed, don’t keep it to yourself – go through the proper channels.

Remember that your employer only wants to see you succeed. If they aren’t on your side, they are probably not the type of organisation you want to work for.