8 Do’s and Don’ts for Your First Professional Experience

Ginger Abbot

Sep 23, 2019

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Are you getting those first-job jitters?

Whether you just landed an internship with your university or are prepping for your first adult position after college, it’s important to know how to prepare yourself for future success.

From prepping for the moment you first step foot into the professional world to building positive rapport in your new position, here’s a list of things you should — and shouldn’t — do.

1. Don’t: Ignore Protocols and Workplace Rules

Whether you’re beginning an internship or will be working in an office, you’ll likely get a rundown of the rules that define your new workplace. Many times, you’ll be introduced to a list of rules you should adhere to while working. There are also unspoken rules that should guide your behavior — such as being respectful to others, focusing on your tasks and minimizing your distractions.

Take these rules to heart and do your best to become part of your new work environment. When you follow the status quo, it’s easier to get the hang of things — while gaining a few allies along the way.

2. Do: Be Mindful of and Courteous Toward Co-Workers

One of the best ways to immediately feel welcomed when embarking on a new professional experience is to respect and acknowledge your co-workers. Being courteous to others can go a long way — especially in a job.

If another professional has a strong allergy, don’t wear heavy perfume to your job. If your office has a shared coffeemaker, refill it when you’re last to use it. Never underestimate the value of courteous behaviors. Plus, mindfulness toward others can enhance your sense of well-being — so it’s a win-win scenario!

3. Don’t: Be Extra Chatty or Distracting

Some people are, for lack of better words, extremely chatty — and striking up a conversation is one way to overcome anxious feelings when becoming the new person at a workplace.

But while you may find yourself tempted to chat with your new co-workers for hours on end, remember to focus on your work when appropriate. If you enjoy others’ company and would like to get to know them more, consider hosting a get-together outside the office instead.

4. Do: Make Connections and Engage With Co-Workers

Talking to your employees throughout the entire workday isn’t going to spotlight you as the ideal employee. But making an effort to genuinely connect with others during your professional experience will.

If you’re struggling to connect with your new colleagues, try bonding over topics that help you find some common ground. Open up to others and be yourself. This simple advice will help you form bonds that make your personal and work life more enjoyable.

5. Don’t: Complain About Your Former Job

While it may be tempting to get a few things off of your chest about your former work positions, remember you should always maintain a sense of professionalism during your new experience.

Focus on the new opportunities that are ahead of you and put your energy into the current moment instead. If you’re still feeling the urge to discuss your old job with others, save your words for private conversations with your closest friends and family instead.

6. Do: Remain Engaged and Open to Your New Job

After you fall into a routine with your work, it’s essential to keep your excitement from dying down. After all, this is your first professional experience! Remind yourself why you’re at your new job in the first place to stay engaged and motivated into the unforeseeable future. While this may not be your last experience during your career, it will play a vital role in shaping you into the professional you aspire to be.

7. Don’t: Be Too Adamant About Immediate Promotions

When you first step foot into the professional world, it can be hard to contain your enthusiasm. If you’re excited over your future, you may just find yourself planning too far ahead — promotions included.

If you’re still on your first month — or week — of this new experience, remember to slow down and focus on your current role instead. Promotions take time, and you’ll have to first master the skills in your current position. Growth doesn’t happen overnight.

8. Do: Continue to Grow, Learn and Thrive

One of the best pieces of advice you can take to heart as a new professional is to never stop growing and learning. Remain patient and learn from your new co-workers as you fall into your new role.

Accepting a new professional experience can be both exciting and scary, but preparing your expectations and behavior will take you far. When you open yourself up to a new way of thinking, you’ll find it easy to adjust and experience a level of growth you never knew you could achieve. You’re just getting started.

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