The First Year On The Job
October 16, 2007
You obviously made the right impression during the interview process or you wouldn’t have gotten your first job in tech. Now what you have to do, from the first day on the job, is to continually bost your skills as a tech expert and as a business person.
Working in IT is challenging in many respects, especially since there’s a well entrenched issue facing any tech staffer: the rep cultivated over the years that has IT as a bad guy and a company team that’s hard to work with. This obviously isn’t true everywhere, but there are still many people in business who don’t value the IT effort, or understand the tech department’s integral role in making business happen.
That’s why, from day one, you have to start building strong interpersonal relationships with colleagues, both in your department and outside your department.
You need to make a good impression from the get-go and continually build on that effort with each passing workday. If you jump in and give a bad impression at the start you’ll have a very hard time undoing the ‘rep’ and moving forward in your career.
Here is what you can do during the first critical year on the job to gain respect as a tech professional and as a team player.
- Make sure, even before you begin that first day of work, you learn as much as you can about your employer, the IT department hierarchy and get to work building friendships by calling soon-to-be colleagues and introducing yourself and learning as much as you can about current tech projects and efforts. Not only will this show initiative on your part, but a lot of those initial month jitters will be avoided and you’ll spend less time those first few weeks trying to get a handle on what’s in progress.
- Grab a notebook, and at the end of your first week on the job, start listing out accomplishments you might have achieved, projects you worked on, issues, questions and, just as importantly, future goals. Update this every week and by year’s end, or salary review time, you’ll have a full accounting for what you’ve done on the job, what you’ve achieved and also an idea of what skills and weaknesses you need to improve. You’ll also have a continually growing list of ideas that you can present as a team player.
- While you may be eager to start pitching the ideas at meetings during few weeks, it’s best to keep a list and then ask for a short meeting with your boss to review your ideas. Why? Well two main reasons: it’s likely your idea isn’t new and colleagues may have pitched it and there’s no change for a specific reason, and also you don’t want to look like the proverbial know-it-all. By meeting with your boss you avoid looking foolish at a meeting, you gain greater understanding of how things work as he or she will likely give more time explaining the issue and you will make the important impression that you’re thinking and looking to improve the work process
- While you’re in that idea one-on-one meeting, also ask to have a weekly or bi-monthly meeting with your boss for the first few months on the job. Many bosses will actually propose this, but if your boss doesn’t then be the one to ask. Again, you’ll gain invaluable understanding of the business, build on your relationship with your boss and show initiative in striving to improve both your skills and your contribution.
During the first few months in a job it’s also critical to also build peer relationships. So if no one proposes having lunch or sharing coffee for a short talk, be the one to approach your colleagues one-on-one and later in small groups to meet and talk. Whether you’re sharing weekend activity stories, or mulling ways to solve some tech issue in play, the camaraderie and team building opportunity is critical to your role and job success.
The best thing about the first year on any job is that most bosses realize there are learning curves for new employees, and especially new tech professionals, at every bend of the business. While you’ll get some slack and understanding during the first few months, you want to be able to show that you not only navigated those curves well but have become an integral part of the IT team, and the company effort, by year’s end.
You’ll also find more valuable advice on surviving, and succeeding during the first year, by clicking here.