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Go from Grad to Grade “A” Employee

By Brittney McKee via Women of Influence
June 5, 2013

I have been there. Being a recent post-secondary graduate is tough; you have limited work experience and perhaps a small network of connections, but big ideas and ambition. So you apply for an entry level position, or even a, gasp, internship to get your foot in the door. I went from being an intern to holding my dream job in under 18 months. Here are 5 tips to fly up the ladder in the early phase of your career:

  • Volunteer for everything: Instead of seeing a lower-level role as a downer, see it as a positive opportunity. You are in a position to learn! Take advantage of this opportunity and soak in all you can. Volunteer for extra assignments, offer to help your co-workers on a project and get your hands on any kind of new experience you can. You will increase your skill set by taking on the additional work, which will only benefit your career in the long-run.
  • Become irreplaceable: Be the person your boss relies on for something unique. Have that strong relationship with the important client, the knack for fixing AV in a pinch or sensational PowerPoint or Excel skills. When you provide a service that no one else can, your boss will be hard-pressed to get rid of you and will want to keep you close-by.
  • Think about it from someone else’s perspective: This is something I learned very early on – every time you reply to an email try to anticipate what the receivers next question will be and answer it upfront. By succinctly providing all the information required to make a decision, you are saving yourself and your co-worker time. Less emails back and forth equals increased productivity. Getting more done in less time and thinking ahead will set you apart from others.
  • Go above and beyond: In everything you do, try to exceed expectations and do your best work. It may take extra effort and time, but doing more than what is expected of your superiors will set you apart from the pack. Just doing the bare minimum does not cut it anymore. The work place is competitive, so make sure you are putting your best foot forward at all times. Set stretch-goals for yourself and amaze your boss.
  • Participate in office culture: Yes, you will get busy and have work piled on your desk. But do not use this as an excuse to keep your head in the sand and not to get to know your colleagues. Chat with your desk-mate, join after-work drinks and make small talk at the water-cooler. Creating connections with the individuals you work with is important. As long as you do so responsibly and don’t go overboard, letting people know your personality will get you noticed. Senior team members favour those who they like for promotions and special projects. Being a socially active member of the team will keep you on their radar.

Brittney is the Media and Event Coordinator for Women of Influence. Drop her a line at @brittmckee!