Many college students think that their job search is over once they have accepted the offer. The job search may be over but the reality is that your work is just starting. Literally. What you do now will directly affect your career trajectory well into the future.
If you have accepted an entry level job or internship, the first thing you should do is ask your new manager this question: “What can I do between now and my start date to be fully prepared to be productive on day one?” This is a standout question that will set you apart from other new hires.
The manager will appreciate you reaching out asking for prep work and will likely ask you to do some additional company research as well as some job-specific research. Even though you think you know the employer well, you are going to be taking that knowledge to a new level once you are on the inside, rather than the outside looking in. So research the employer from both an internal (i.e. what the employer says about the company) and external (i.e. what others say about the employer) basis.
And then there is the paperwork. If there are forms to complete as a new hire (yes, there are always forms to complete), find out if you can complete any of these forms in advance. The first several days are often minimally productive due to these new employee form completions, getting your employee ID, picture taken, login credentials, etc. Do what you can to streamline any of that process which can be completed in advance.
You should also ask your manager, if you have not already done so in the interview process, what the near-term expectations will be for your new role: “What are the key deliverables you would like me to deliver in my first 90 days in my new role?” For an internship, that timeframe is pretty much the entire internship, so it would be: “What are the key deliverables you would like me to deliver in this internship?” Make note of these deliverables and do what you can to prepare in advance to begin delivering quickly in your role.
You may be given the opportunity to connect with other members on your new team in advance of your start date. If yes, ask this key question: “What can I do now to be better prepared to be productive when I start?” You may also want to ask: “Knowing what you know now, what would you have wanted to know before starting?” Keep in mind that this second question might elicit some insider tips that are not generally divulged during the interview process. During the interviews, they are selling you on the opportunity. Now that you are staff, they may give you more realistic insights into the actual world of work you are about to enter.
If your new job is an internship, your objective should be to deliver high quality on all requests and produce tangible and measurable end results. The final outcome of your internship could be and should be an offer to return after the next academic year.
If your new job is your first entry level job after graduation, your objective should be to deliver star performance. Aim not just to meet but also, wherever possible, to exceed the standard expectations for the role. You want to establish yourself as a “HiPo” (high potential employee) who will have further opportunities for growth and advancement in the future. While your entry level employer could be your lifetime employer, you should also be developing yourself relative to the rest of your industry. If/when your employer is not able to provide you with opportunities for growth and advancement, you should be ready to make a career move. Go in with the hope that this will be your last employer, but also understanding the reality that it likely will not. They are investing in you, so make sure you give them a positive return on their investment. By making yourself invaluable in your role, you will establish your career trajectory both internally and externally.
Congrats on your new job!