How to Succeed when Entering the Workforce

Photo by Jason Goodman on Unsplash

My first internship as a twenty-year-old chemical engineering student was eye-opening. Not only was I one of the only sub-thirty-year-olds at the company, but I was also one of the only women. You make think this is where the complaining about ageism and sexism comes in, but au contraire. I think these circumstances benefitted me immensely, as I quickly gained the respect of my coworkers, made valuable contributions, and was asked to return to the company long-term. Of course, this took some effort on my part, but the actionable steps were simple.

First, I asked for help.

Nobody likes a know-it-all, certainly not when they’re young and inexperienced. I knew I wasn’t as experienced as the people I worked with, and I didn’t act like I was. My eagerness to learn and my humbleness about my abilities made others more than happy to help me.

I got to know people.

Many people lack relatability and empathy in the workplace, so finding true supporters is often difficult. I made a point to take interest in my coworkers’ lives, and I gradually developed strong relationships with my team. We grew to understand each other’s values and strengths, which helped us work well together.

I was efficient and took my work seriously.

Above all else, I made sure to get my job done, as work is what I was there to do. Producing quality work speaks for itself, and others couldn’t help but respect my work ethic.

I asked for feedback.

Criticism isn’t something to be avoided; it should be sought! Asking for feedback allowed me to learn and improve my work significantly. I held meetings with my boss to get feedback, and I made sure to take notes. This allowed me to actually act on the advice I was given, for feedback without action is just a waste of time.

I walked with a purpose.

Walking with a bit of speed and energy is an outward sign that reflects an internal zeal. It shows others that you’re here with a mission and that you’re not dilly dallying.

I was extremely honest.

When others asked for my input, I didn’t shy away from being honest, even if that meant saying there was room for improvement. My inexperience gave me a perspective that my coworkers didn’t have. Being a pair of fresh eyes on a project can make a huge difference in recognizing problems, and others appreciate it.

Even if you’re an underdog in the workplace, your unique strengths can help you excel. With some practice and dedication, you’ll be on your way to success in no time.

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