Getting Past the Interview

Welcome to your first job! Illustration by Elyse Yang.
Welcome to your first job! Illustration by Elyse Yang.
Welcome to your first day of work! Illustration by Elyse Yang.
Welcome to your first day of work! Illustration by Elyse Yang.

Resume done. Interview done. Let’s say you chatted with the recruiters and scored your first job, now what? With the 2015 Winter Job and Internship Fair right around the corner, Michelle Tillman of the UCSD Career Services Center gives some tips on how to make your first job or internship a successful experience.

Tips for Your First Day of Work:

“I would recommend still thinking of your first day as an interview,” Tillman says. “Depending on the organization, there may be a trial period.” She goes on to explain that the rules of the job interview still apply during this time — dressing professionally and arriving punctually, if not 10 minutes early.

Review Your Job Description: Before you begin, you’ll want to make sure you know exactly what you’ll be responsible for and that you have a good handle on it. If you feel like you may not know how to do something, make sure you ask. But Tillman recommends going in with an open mind, and being willing to take on projects and tasks that may not be what you were initially expecting from the job. Showing you’re a team player makes a great first impression.

Research the Company: In addition to knowing what your job is, you’ll want to know who your supervisor and coworkers are, and what they’re responsible for, so you can offer to help if you can. Even more importantly, learn about the company’s mission statement and its short-term and long-term goals. You’ll be an even better employee when your work is directly moving the business forward.

Be Cordial: On your first day, learn names and greet your new coworkers as you begin working. A new environment may be stressful or even uncomfortable, but meeting them now will help establish a good base for the relationships you’re building moving forward.

Features1 - Elyse Yang Jan 12
Don’t feel left out. Illustration by Elyse Yang.

Tips for Dealing With Conflict:

Conflict inevitably arises in any work environment, and bosses appreciate an employee who can proactively and maturely handle a problem.

– Build Your Relationships: Get to know your boss and your direct supervisors before a possible conflict takes place. One of the best ways to do that, according to Tillman, is to organize a chat over coffee or lunch to get to know them. Approaching a boss may be intimidating, so make sure they know it’s just a casual chat, and keep the time to about half an hour or less.

– Keep Track of Personal Details: As you get to know your coworkers, you’ll find out more about who they are in their spare time, and keeping track of these details creates stronger working relationships. “I go so far as to write down milestones and even significant details like their partners’ names,”  Tillman said. “It really helps to build a connection with your coworkers when you get to know them outside of the workplace.”

– Be Clear and Ask Questions: If a conflict does happen despite your best efforts, Tillman recommends sitting down with the person individually and talking it through. Being clear about what went wrong or asking questions about the situation creates a calm atmosphere that’s important to resolution. Your supervisor or a human resources representative can help mediate the conversation if you need it.

Feedback can be a good thing! Illustration by Elyse Yang.
Feedback can be a good thing! Illustration by Elyse Yang.

Tips for Feedback:

In the course of your career, your supervisor will likely offer feedback about your job performance. Many students feel intimidated if the feedback isn’t all sparkling, but Tillman says there is a way to turn even negative feedback into a positive experience.

– Be Gracious: You might be devastated to hear that your performance hasn’t met expectations, but thank them for bringing it to your attention, recommends Tillman. Don’t get angry, but instead shift the conversation to how you will work to improve the situation or take responsibility for your actions.

– Grow and Change: Growing and changing is essential to any job, and some of the best lessons you’ll receive come from feedback from supervisors. Internalize the lessons and try to incorporate them in your job performance moving forward.

– Check In: After you’ve received the feedback and you’ve tried to incorporate it, Tillman says you can even initiate a conversation later to see if your boss has noticed an improvement. Not only will you look like a proactive employee, you’ll likely have another honest discussion about what you can work on to improve in the future.

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