Maybe you’re about to start your first job in the “real world”.
Maybe you’ve been working for some time, but feel stuck in a rut.
Maybe you’ve been working for some time, but are transitioning to a new industry.
Having worked some years in the “real world”, interacted with people of all abilities and tenures, and managed a few employees myself, here’s what I think are the 5 things that you need to be able to do to make it to the next level.
These are the things that I wish I knew when I first started working. These are the things they don’t teach you in school.
1 — Ask questions / be coachable
No one expects you to know everything.
No one is going to “penalize” you for being curious or asking clarifying questions.
The only thing worse than completely messing up a task is to misunderstand the task in the first place. Or to pretend like you already know everything.
2 — Check your work
Sometimes, it’s hard to know whether you have the correct answer.
But, it’s always possible to know if the answer you’re coming to is reasonable.
Before you submit that final answer, compare it to some other related benchmarks that you can get your hands on.
3 — Find a way to get things done fast and dynamically
You’re going to keep on getting constant requests to change just one assumption in the model and see how that affects the final answer.
You’re going to be asked to have that answer in a matter of minutes.
Take the extra time up front to build a more robust, dynamic model so that these requests are as painless as possible.
4 — Manage your own workload
When you get a task from your Manager, you should work under the assumption that he/she is going to forget about that task and expect you to bring it to completion.
Everyone has more than enough tasks to manage so the sooner you can take care of your own, the more respect and responsibility you’ll be given.
5 — Manage upwards
Your manager won’t know all the great work you’re doing if you’re not communicating that upwards.
Your manager won’t know the help that you need unless you communicate that upwards.
Without a doubt, building your career and moving up takes a lot.
But with the right level of effort and attitude, know that it’s possible to eventually get there.
5 steps to Crush your first job was originally published in The Ascent on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.