Create a positive impression on the job

So you’ve just started a new job or internship – now what? The working world differs from university life in many ways. Learn how to make a strong early impression.


Starting a New Job

  • Arrive on time! Be on time — even if it means setting two alarms. Stay late and show commitment. Extra effort now can go a long way.
  • Know the code. Read the employee manual. Don’t understand something? Your supervisor and HR team can answer any questions.
  • Ask questions. It is impossible to know everything right away. Help your supervisors help you if you are unclear on deliverables or expectations.
  • Meet coworkers. Organizational culture is a major factor in job satisfaction. Seek appropriate, professional ways to get to know others.
  • Take cues. Not sure what “casual Friday” means? Curious about meeting expectations? Your coworkers can show you the ropes, from dress codes and cell-phone policies to documentation requirements.
  • Remain open. You will be exposed to a range of new ideas when starting out. Be open. Employers value adaptive talent.

Getting Organized

  • Use a calendar. From managing meeting schedules to tracking deadlines, it is important to stay on top of your schedule.
  • Maintain checklists. Professional projects can include many moving pieces. Don’t rely on your memory. Write things down.
  • Document your work. You will acquire new skills and experiences at a rapid pace. Track your successes for later reference.

Communication Skills

  • Express confidence. Even seasoned professionals get nervous. The best antidote is to be prepared. (This will get easier with experience.)
  • Be polished. Speak clearly. Use proper grammar and avoid text-speak. When you are at work, you are a reflection of the organization.
  • Pick up the phone. Digital communication may be a universal, but a quick phone call or face-to-face chat is often more efficient.
  • Put your best foot forward. Know if you are expected to dress differently when clients are in the office. Dress for the job you want (not the one you have).
  • Know the expectations. Understand when you will be expected to be reachable.

Power Dynamics

  • Know the hierarchy. Understand how decisions are made, and who the stakeholders are for your projects.
  • Be a team player. Consider other perspectives, even if they differ from yours, and tactfully find ways to add value.
  • Do your homework. Know when to push your idea or agenda, and when to let it go. Use research when presenting new ideas, and be respectful when final decisions are made.
  • Embrace change. Certain fields offer a great deal of structure. Others, not so much. Those who adapt well are more likely to find continued opportunity.


  • Seek extra responsibility. A great way to get noticed is to raise your hand. However, don’t take on more than you can do well.
  • Keep networking. Career development doesn’t end here. It is a priority throughout your career. (Be sure to understand any policies regarding client contact before you reach out.)
  • Plan for advancement. Opportunity may arise when you least expect it. Be ready for it, but be patient. Your best bet is to keep your eye on the long view, while planning for it.

Work-Life Balance

  • Schedule some downtime. Certain industries demand long hours. When you can, unplug and recharge.
  • Make your health a priority. Get up and walk around periodically. Make time to exercise. How you feel affects how you perform.
  • Invest in your future. Think about contributing to employer retirement plans. Getting a head start can be incredibly valuable.