STUDENT LIFE / SEP. 07, 2014
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Avoiding The Most Common Mistakes Made by Grads Their First Month on the Job

You graduated so recently that the ink on your diploma is barely dry. Now you are ready to start bringing home a monthly paycheck in your first job that actually matters to you.  But are you really ready? You may have the books smarts and the college learning to get the job done, but do you have the experience to deal with situations likely to pop up sometime during your first month on the job? Situations that are no big deal when all that’s at stake is a minimum-wage paycheck in a go-nowhere job, but that could cost you a career opportunity in a high-paying position when you don’t handle them properly.   

When Confidence Turns to Arrogance

The realization that college actually did make you smarter has a sneaky way of quickly transforming from self-confidence into arrogance. People admire self-confidence.  Arrogance, not so much. You may have to learn from experience that those who have been working all that time you were in college don’t despise many things more than some college kid who thinks he’s got it all figured out. Realise this now so it doesn’t come down on you like a load of bricks from some superior whose intelligence you insulted.  
Who’s the Fairest Boss of All?

Even those college grads who have literally never worked a day in their life should know better than to start a new job by kissing up to the boss.  Another mistake is almost the equal of that one and might even be considered a form of kissing up. In your search to find a new mentor to replace the loss of a favorite instructor at college, you quickly come to admire your boss to the point of mirroring him. Mirroring the boss can range from buying new clothes so you share the same style to mimicking her gestures or speaking style. When not given much thought, this seems like a good idea, but it only takes a few seconds to bring the whole concept crashing down. Trying to become a carbon copy of your boss implicitly sends the message that your eventually goal is their job.  And that job is already taken. 

Touchdown Dance

Ever watch a football player celebrate a touchdown by dancing in the end zone?  Sure, it’s entertaining, but in the end all he’s really doing is making an enormously big deal out of doing nothing more impressive than the job he was hired to do. Now picture a UPS or FedEx driver doing a dance every time he delivers a package. What if a surgical team formed a circle and twirled the tumor they just removed from a patient around on its end like a football? Would look pretty silly, wouldn’t it?  The point? Don’t waste that vital first month of employment immediately following graduation by exhibiting any evidence that you expect praise or recognition for having done the job that you were hired to do. Unless you have already witnessed a precedent among other employees, this means no high-fives, no victory dances and not even a pumped fist.  

The Six Most Dangerous Words a New Employee Can Say

Alongside the danger of possessing so much self-confidence that you insult your superiors is the opposite extreme of insecurity. When the anxiety of insecurity combines with the impulsiveness of wanting to prove yourself, the result is often one of the biggest mistakes made by the new hire. What are the six most dangerous words you can say during your that first month? "I know how to do that." Don’t be afraid to admit you don’t know how to do something. Whether that something is changing toner in the copier, calculating risk-adjusted rate of return or removing a virus from a computer, if you don’t know how to do it, say so. Better to reveal that you still have some things to learn than make things even worse by exhibiting that knowledge for all to see.  

What your first month on your first job following graduation really comes down to is making yourself promotable. If you can succeed in making yourself promotable, everything else will eventually fall into place. Succeeding in this goal is partially about showing you are capable, dependable, flexible and communicate well with others. The other part of making yourself promotable is avoiding the rookie mistakes that seasoned professionals see with the arrival of every fresh batch of college grads.

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