Here’s what our team recommends:
1. Embrace a growth mindset. Be excited that you have the opportunity to learn and grow moving forward.
You are going to mess up at your first job. And your job after that and the one after that. Not because you’re a bad employee, but because you’re a human. The difference between those who commit to learning and those who don’t is turning everything into an opportunity.
Miss a deadline for an important project? Take your mistake and imagine what timeline future-you is in. Is it the one where you become a reliable and timely employee that can provide advice to new employees struggling with getting work done on time? Or is it the one where you get written up for failing to turn work in on time?
Failure is only failure if we don’t do our best to move forward.
2. Start saving. By saving a percentage of your income now, you can create a lifelong habit of doing so.
Saving sucks, and trust us when we say we would rather spend our money on things we want, not things we need. But here’s the catch: everyone needs to save money. When we save money, we pay ourselves first and prevent future debt that could be incurred down the line.
[click_to_tweet tweet=”Everyone needs to save money. When we save money, we pay ourselves first and prevent future debt that could be incurred down the line.” quote=”Everyone needs to save money. When we save money, we pay ourselves first and prevent future debt that could be incurred down the line.”]
Future you will thank 2018 you if you make a budget and figure out your necessary expenses now. We like these tips from Millennial Money as a starting point. Study and learn them well, young grasshopper.
3. Make first impressions count. Be genuine and prepared.
In an article for the American Psychological Association, Mark Rowh writes, that substantial research affirms that first impressions do count. A 2009 study in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin found that factors ranging from clothing style to posture play a role in how impressions are formed.
Another study, in the April 2011 issue of Social Influence, found that a limp handshake can make you appear overly passive. Having a handle on the kinds of impressions you make can cause a domino effect. If you make a bad impression, others may shy away from working with you in the future, while a good impression could lead to more opportunities, like future job offers.
4. Take care of yourself. Eat right, make exercise a part of your routine, and get enough sleep.
You owe it to yourself to show up and feel ready to conquer the day. Take it from the writer of this blog: staying out until 2 a.m. and getting up for work at 8 a.m. because you wanted to do Thursday night karaoke at Duffy’s is not sustainable and definitely not advised.
A 2012 Sleep in America® poll compared the number of hours respondents said they need to function at their best during the day, compared to the number of hours respondents reported they actually slept. Overall, about four in ten respondents (41%) did not get enough sleep on workdays.
A lack of sleep has many consequences, from heart disease, to weight gain, to poor job performance. As the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute notes, sleep helps your brain work properly. While sleeping, your brain is prepping for the next day. Sleep helps it form new pathways to help you learn and remember information.
[click_to_tweet tweet=”Sleep helps it form new pathways to help you learn and remember information.” quote=”Sleep helps it form new pathways to help you learn and remember information.”]
5. Control what you can control and stay calm. Every job has its bad days, but don’t let the pressure and stress get the best of you.
One person’s bad mood can affect the entire company in a ripple effect, meaning the consequences for one angry email could extend far beyond people’s inboxes and impact another person’s day.
On the other side of the coin, this means there’s potential for good moods to infect a workplace positively. In fact, research suggests that positive people flourish in the workplace, not just because they’re easier to get along with, but because negative moods take up more cognitive energy.
Barsade notes that bad moods require more brain power. If you’re in a bad mood, you’re more likely to focus on that mood’s effect. If you’re in a positive mood, your brain is more open to taking information and handling it effectively.
6. Ask for help.
Asking for help can be nerve wracking; no one wants to seem like they can’t handle their workload. The best way to ask for help is to do it when you need it, not when it’s too late. Putting off asking for help wastes time, whereas being honest and asking for help will create a solution to your problem.
7. Take it one step at a time. Learn from your experiences and get better everyday.
You’re not going to be an expert at your job on the first day, but practice makes perfect. It takes 10,000 hours for someone to master their craft and with around 2,000 hours in a work year, you’ve got a while before you do.
Commit to being the best version of you and making small steps toward becoming that person every day. Figure out what that formula looks like and put it into practice.
8. Find a work environment that you love and thrive in.
Your perfect environment won’t be full of people exactly like you. It’s your job to figure out what you need to be happy and productive and run with it.
In a paper for Open Learning, Professor Daniel Nettle of Newcastle University writes, “Personality differences tend to manifest themselves through the quick, gut-feeling, intuitive and emotional systems of the human mind.” Meaning, because our personality type is genuinely a part of our whole self, we can’t always control how we react to someone whose personality is vastly different.
This concept feeds into our work environment by how we socialize during group activities and how we work with those different than us. One person’s personality type weaknesses may play into another person’s strengths, allowing for group harmony. In a worst-case scenario, the opposite could be true.
9. Get exposure to different industries and jobs through professional networking organizations.
Joining a group of like minded individuals is a surefire way to meet others with similar goals, while receiving advice and even guidance from those who have been there.
We are particularly fond of the Raleigh Young Professionals Network. Our team’s memberships have provided us with invaluable experiences, like meeting other young professionals in the Triangle area and connecting with our community. Look for a young professionals group to join in your area to reap the same rewards
10. Set goals and make plans to achieve them.
StickK, and apps like it, can help you stay on track by turning your goals into a wager. Put your money where your mouth is and see if you can stay on track with weekly check-ins. If not, your money could go to an anti-charity (think: an organization you don’t support) or straight to StickK.
Have friends step in as referees to oversee your goal completion and hold you accountable. You can also garner supporters with similar goals by using the app’s networking feature.
11. Find something you’re passionate about and try it out.
Ready to become a world class chef or join the social committee at the office? Just do it. Becoming an adult relies on knowing when to be flexible and knowing your boundaries. Use new experiences to learn more about how you work. The only thing stopping you is you!
12. Have integrity in all that you do. Do the right thing, and good things will happen.
Be honest and do good work. This one is really that simple.
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13. Take initiative and lead by example. You don’t have to have a certain title to be a leader.
What makes a good leader isn’t just a role or title, but rather a myriad of traits every current and future leader can adopt now. Among them? Self-assess. The best leaders are the ones who can continuously develop and evolve, inside and out.
14. Foster Friendships.
Noting research from Gallup, the Harvard Business Review writes, “Employees report that when they have friends at work, their job is more fun, enjoyable, worthwhile, and satisfying. Gallup found that close work friendships boost employee satisfaction by 50% and people with a best friend at work are seven times more likely to engage fully in their work.”
Companies can foster camaraderie in different ways, both on macro and micro levels. Company-wide events that encourage relaxation and bonding, like a BBQ or group lunch, is a great way to build camaraderie on a large scale. On the micro level, allowing employees to develop productive friendships that create a sense of belonging and well-being will lead to more engaged employees.
From our own experiences as hiring experts, we’ve seen that higher company retention occurs when employee engagement is regarding employees’ emotional commitment to a company and their willingness to “go the extra mile” to drive towards organizational goals. Friendships aid engagement and can affect employees’ energy and effort they put into their work, sense of pride and enthusiasm, and level of saturation in their work.
15. Make room for everyone at the table, lift up others.
Personify has spent the past two years implementing an inclusive environment by expanding leadership roles to be more gender-diverse. The diversity of thought from the top down is now influencing our business strategy and has positively impacted our revenue and culture.
Furthermore, our gender diversity in leadership positions extends beyond our executive team. Of our seven employee-led committees, five of these groups are led by women. In an effort to expand the decision-making power to different levels of the organization, our committees are tasked with championing specific initiatives and developing organization-wide solutions to help Personify stay in an ongoing state of improvement.
We are proud of our commitment to inclusion and maintaining an environment that promotes our employees to be the best versions of themselves. Though it takes time and effort, investing in an inclusive workplace is vital to the strength of a company’s culture.
16. Work hard, but don’t get burnt out.
We believe there’s a big difference between doing hard work well and working too hard.
In 2013, Cambridge University conducted an interview with three of its researchers on hard work and what happens when we do too much of it.
When asked how would they define “working too hard” and why humans continue to do it, Dr. Jochen Menges defined working too hard as putting too much effort into one’s work, day after day, month after month, without opportunities to reflect and recharge.
Menges continues, “-working hard can be enjoyable, but working too hard is unsustainable; it saps energy, impairs people cognitively and, ironically, leads to decrements in performance in the long run.”
Work smarter, not harder. Developing a daily routine and using qualitative tracking is key to staying on track and dodging the allure of procrastination and distraction.
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We’re big fans of free software tools like Asana or Trello that provide users with an interface that tracks projects and deadlines, while allowing for collaboration with coworkers.
17. Be gritty.
Employees should strive for grit as it shows a commitment to the task at hand and a willingness to improve (this is especially true of leaders). Researcher Angela Duckworth points out that company culture plays a large part in whether or not employees are willing to persevere and reflect on how they can approve. If an employee is part of a culture that reveres hard work over natural ability alone, employees are more likely to be engaged and willing to grow.
18. Never stop learning.
You may be done with school, but you’ll never stop being a student. Commit to always learning something new, no matter how small.