Updating Results

Start work with a home run from day one

Jarrod Chan

Digital Nomad in Multiple Career Paths

Excited or nervous? It doesn’t matter

Picture getting ready on your very first day of work.

How do you feel? Excited! Hopefully. But also nervous I’m sure. Is that the third time you’ve adjusted your outfit in the mirror? A couple more trips to the bathroom to be safe? Few nervous checks of the time (what if you’re late!)?

There’s nothing wrong with a healthy dose of nerves. But you start to working life can often feel like a tsunami of emotions.

So what’s the best way to navigate the start of your new professional life? How can you hit the ground running while keeping those pesky nerves in check?

Don’t you worry - in this topic we’ll cover:

  • Getting a head start with a plan
  • Acing those first few months with our Boss Basics guide
  • The final (and most important) thing to remember!

The best start is a head start, and that starts with a plan

I have a confession to make. 

As your (self-proclaimed) guru on this topic, I have to admit I’ve got a shady past in this area. In my first years of uni I was allergic to study - the definition of 'not a model student.' Only when my (much more conscientious) friends started to get summer internships did I realise I might be in trouble when entering the post apocalyptic uni world. 

The challenge - my 'not a model student' grades ruled me out of most graduate programs ('good jobs'). I needed a different plan.

This complex plan involved placing top 20 in a uni course to tour a big 4 bank, pestering the poor bankers to let me work for free (DIY internship), and then making the most of my 6 week stint to get recommended to the grad recruitment team (bypassing my ugly grades) and land a dream grad role.

Most importantly though, the lessons I learned during this time put me in the perfect position to excel when I started my grad program. Within a few months, I somehow found myself presenting my strategy to the bank’s executive team and topping my cohort in performance reviews (excuse me while I shamelessly pat my back). 

The point is - having a clear idea of how to excel and a plan to achieve this is the best possible way to get a head start to your working life.

Learning the basics, like a boss

Now you’ve started work, it’s time to think like a boss. As a boss, you don’t have time for chit chat, so let’s get straight to it.

We’ve developed our patented Boss Basics as your go-to guide on acing your start to work. It covers six boss categories:

  1. Mindset & Behaviour:  What’s the right attitude and mentality to get ahead?
  2. Capability & Output: How can you smash your work and projects?
  3. Brand & Networks: What relationships and reputation should you be building? 
  4. Stakeholder Engagement: What’s the secret to winning over your stakeholders?
  5. Workload: How do you juggle priorities and pump out your work? 
  6. Direction: How can you drive towards your longer term career objectives?

1. Mindset & Behaviour

  • Be a keen(ish) bean. The overly keen grad is a classic stereotype, but being enthusiastic rather than apathetic is always the better choice. Don’t overdo it, but look to bring energy and a positive lens to your work. 

  • Be humble. Stay grounded and be willing to prove your worth. Accept you don’t know everything and don’t be the grad who thinks they’re too good for certain tasks. No doubt you’re highly intelligent and capable, but that doesn’t mean you can’t roll your sleeves up for a dose of grunt work if needed!

  • Be ready to learn. Demonstrate a genuine willingness to learn and actively seek to improve. It’ll get your manager on-side, and be hugely rewarding for both of you when you demonstrate growth.

  • Back yourself. Be confident in your ability and assured in your approach (without being arrogant!). Believe in your capabilities and stay calm when faced with work that may seem overwhelming - we both know you’ll get the job done!

    Pro tip: Behaviour and ability to learn are often more important factors than pure capability when evaluating grads. No employer is expecting a grad to arrive as a finished product. Read up on the KPIs used for your performance review and take particular note of the ‘behavioural’ metrics - if you can nail these then you’re already on track for a great review!

2. Capability & Output

  • Create a plan, Stan. Before diving into a task or project, break down your approach into logical pieces. If you need to draft a document, what are the sections of that document going to say? If you’re asked to do some analysis in a spreadsheet, how will that sheet be structured and what are the rows and columns? Having a plan will do wonders for the quality of your work and ability to communicate it to your team.

  • Identify gaps. Figure out what your weaker areas are and identify methods to address these. Don’t be afraid to communicate these areas to your manager. Not only will this prevent any misunderstanding about your capability, but your manager might have some tips and work opportunities for you to improve these areas.

  • Train up. Actively seek opportunities to improve your skills, knowledge and experience. This could be both at work (volunteering for certain tasks or projects) or outside of it - such as training courses and general learning. Communicate your desire to skill-up to your manager and team.

    Pro tip #1: Seek feedback on your output and performance earlier rather than later. It may not always be a comfortable answer, but better to know what you need to improve when there’s still time to make changes, rather than at the end of your project when the verdict is finalised.

    Pro tip #2: If you’re stuck or don’t know how to do something (and even Google hasn’t helped), don’t be afraid to reach out to others! Whether from your manager or colleagues, seeking help is a genuine avenue to learn and not a reflection on your capability.

3. Brand & Network

  • Get to know people. It’s an annoying cliche but it often does come down to 'who you know' and not just 'what you know'. Building relationships with your team and broader colleagues not only helps you do your actual work, but is invaluable for future opportunities later down the track. 

  • Pursue exposure opportunities. Volunteer for or pursue opportunities to work with, present to or generally engage with a broader set of stakeholders outside your day-to-day colleagues. Some of these opportunities may not be in your comfort zone (eg presenting to a large audience) but their value can’t be underestimated. Building your personal brand is ultimately an exercise in good work and marketing!

  • Engage mentors. It’s critical to build relationships with peers at your level , and this should never be neglected. But equally, don’t shy away from engaging with more senior leaders and stakeholders. In particular, identifying and engaging a senior stakeholder to be your mentor is hugely valuable - providing advice, direction and coaching that isn’t always offered by your peers.

    Pro tip #1: Reach out! Make it a point to catch-up with team members, stakeholders and broader people in your organisation. These can be formal catch-ups regarding your work and goals or more informal ones to get to know your colleagues better - both are important and valuable! 

    Pro tip #2: Say yes. Exposure opportunities can be varied, such as joining a work committee (eg social, diversity), presenting at a meeting or undertaking a project with new stakeholders. In any case, saying yes to these opportunities never hurts! Just keep your workload in mind and in check.

4. Stakeholder Engagement

  • Understand drivers. Every stakeholder has their own motivators, whether it be their official work KPIs or more general motivators. Identifying these drivers is a core part of understanding your stakeholders and ensuring you can engage with them in a productive way.

  • Don’t be a robot. Adjust your communication style to suit each stakeholder and situation. Every stakeholder is different, and a big part of stakeholder management is recognising this and adapting accordingly.

  • Be clear. Be crystal clear with your stakeholders around things like responsibilities, timelines and expectations. Ambiguity can lead to misunderstanding which is often a key cause of stakeholder conflict.

    Pro tip #1: Do your homework. Particularly for important stakeholders, it always pays to do your research on who you’re engaging with. Any intel you can gather on their style, perspective and drivers will help guide your approach. This doesn’t just apply before you meet them either, it’s an ongoing journey of intel!

5. Workload

  • Triage your tasks. Create a framework that works for you on how to prioritise and triage your tasks. A useful framework to think about is how urgent (short timeframe) vs how important ( high impact) your tasks are. Any task that is both of these should be the priority. The tricky part is finding the right balance between your urgent vs your important tasks.

  • Stay balanced. Make sure your workload is manageable and sustainable. It’s important to be keen to take on new work, but equally important is recognising when your workload is too much and pushing back.

    Pro tip: Manage up. Communicate your workload with your manager and flag issues early! A useful approach is to put the task of prioritisation to your manager. If you have 4 tasks for this week but only have capacity to do 3, make them choose which task can wait until next week!

6. Direction

  • Understand what you want. Whether it’s within your current role or your broader career,  you can’t get what you want if you don’t know what that is! Having a clear objective to achieve (outside of just the work you’re assigned) is important to steering your career.

  • Communicate. Tell your manager and your team what you want and where you want to go. If they don’t know, they can’t help you get there.

    Pro tip: Set tangible goals. Having defined objectives over the short (6 months), medium (6-12 months) and long-term (12 months+) will both help you understand what you want and keep you on track to get there. These can relate either to your current role, grad program rotations or career more generally.

It’s time for close of business

Now you’re armed up with our Boss Basics, it’s time to get out there! These tips are just a useful starting point. Everybody’s first working experience is different and everyone’s approach varies. The most important thing is no matter how your journey pans out, make sure to enjoy the ride and savour this moment! You only start professional life once - go get em!

Stay tuned for upcoming topics or check out or other useful articles here. We’ve got plenty more gold to help you make the leap from top student to top professional!

Got feedback? We’d love to hear from you! Shoot us an email at [email protected]

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