5 Career Milestones You Should Reach Your First Year

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You finally landed your first real job out of college. You’re now on the career starting block and ready for that first year sprint. All eyes will be on you to see how you fit in and perform under pressure. This initial “trial by fire” will be crucial in determining how far you go—or even if you survive. Here are five career mini goals you can use to gauge your success during your all-important first year.

Establish a Brag List

Keep a brag list of all of your key accomplishments and contributions. Record even minor successes at first, then filter and prioritize the list every quarter. If you were given a high visibility task and did well, record it in more detail. Having a well-documented brag list not only builds your self-confidence but will be very useful during your annual review. Check out How To Be Confident - Track Your Accomplishments.

Establish Your Integrity

Meet your deadlines even for minor tasks. Be honest about your strengths and weaknesses. Don’t overreach in an attempt to look good. This can be hard to do for newbies thrust into a variety of assignments with multiple deadlines. Learn to multi-task, set priorities, and ask for more time if you need it. It’s your first year. Your supervisor will understand and may give you some leeway. But don’t make a habit of asking for extensions.

Establish Relationships

As a newbie, you’ll be introduced to many people—peers, supervisors, and managers. Make it a point to remember their names and titles. Keep in contact with them on a professional level. Don’t just talk to them when you need help. If a peer needs help, take the time to do so. You always want to be perceived as a team player. In Business Networking: How to Build an Awesome Professional Network, Mike Fishbein notes that establishing a strong business network can be a source of valuable advice and information, letting you stand on the shoulders of those who have been “there and done that.“ In building a network, the author advises newbies to add value to others without expecting anything in return.

Establish a Reservoir of Knowledge

Learn as much as you can as fast as you can. You’re allowed to ask lots of questions during your first three months. But do keep a “Notebook of Knowledge.” This should include everything you’ve learned by asking questions, observing work protocols, information you gleaned from meetings, and discussions you’ve had with supervisors and managers. Refer to your notebook before you begin each task, meet with your supervisor or enter a meeting. After a while, you’ll find less and less need to refer to your notebook. But it will be invaluable at the start. 

Establish a Mentor Relationship

Seek out a person who is one rung above you, someone who has been with the company for several years. Ask if they would mind being your mentor during this trying first year. A mentor can be very important in helping you learn the ropes and avoid the pitfalls newbies often fall victim to. Make sure your mentor is someone you can confide in.  A trusted mentor can be your sounding board, particularly for issues involving company culture and high visibility tasks. Check out Ask An Expert - Finding a Mentor for ideas on what a mentor can do for you and how to find one that fits your needs.


Image courtesy of Archipoch/FreeDigitalPhotos.net



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