Career Advancement

Making The Most Of Your First Job After Undergrad

A Mini-Plan For Leveraging The Time Before An MBA

This article is sponsored by MIT Sloan.

Your first job out of college is where you will build the fundamental interpersonal and technical skill set you can leverage throughout the remainder of your career. Your first job is formative and therefore both exciting and daunting. Looking back on my own experience, I believe there are several key ways, detailed below, to make the most out of this first job. 

Set Goals

Before you start your job, come up with measurable goals for the year ahead. An example of a goal could be “Become an expert at building PowerPoint slides” or “Manage my time more effectively.” Hold yourself accountable and keep track of your progress and what you learned about yourself while trying to achieve each goal. Doing this will push you to stay growth-oriented during your first year on the job.

Understand The Business

As a new employee, your main focus will be on mastering the day-to-day tasks of your job. Take this a step further. While mastering your day-to-day tasks, think about how your role fits into the larger organization. Be thoughtful about how your work contributes to the company’s goals and long-term vision.

Network Strategically

Even if you do not have a plan for your career, pick a few areas at your company that are interesting to you. Reach out to people in those areas and set up coffee chats to learn about what they do and why they find their jobs interesting. Be a sponge and listen to others’ experience. Some of these people may ultimately help you after your first job.

Seek Out Mentors

Seek out one or two people other than your manager(s) who are open to having check-ins with you. These mentors will be helpful as you navigate tough work situations and dynamics in your first year. They will be your sounding board and voice of reason. They will also provide you with valuable feedback as you reach different levels in your career.

Be Open To Feedback

In your first year, make feedback a priority, and be receptive to getting it. You should seek feedback on performance and areas of improvement. Asking for feedback upfront shows that you are focused on becoming the best employee you can be and that you care about your career trajectory.

Enjoy And Appreciate The Ride

This is perhaps the most important to making the most of your first job after college. Do not stress yourself out too much. The expectation from companies is that you learn as much as you can. There will be moments where you feel a little lost or frustrated. Embrace the process – be open to making mistakes and learning from those mistakes. Remember to stay excited and curious as you go into your first job. You are about to embark on one of the greatest adventures of your life!

Ashley Aydin is currently an MBA student at MIT Sloan. Prior to Sloan, she led projects for the Global Omnichannel & Online Strategy team at Estee Lauder, worked on the Strategy, Insights & Analytics team at Saks Fifth Avenue, and Business Development & Partnerships team at Y Combinator e-commerce startup The MIT Sloan MBA Early Admission is designed for ambitious and forward-thinking students around the globe who want to gain valuable career experience and secure a seat in a future MIT Sloan MBA class.

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