My name is Stephen.

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How to Have A Successful First 30 Days at Your First Job

A lot has been written about getting your elusive first job as a new grad, but not much has been written about succeeding at that job and growing your career.

August is a common time for new grads to start. So I thought I'd share some wisdom I've learned over the years about getting your career off to the right start:

  1. Ask your manager what success looks like in the first 30 days. Agree on what is a realistic goal to accomplish — what you should learn, what project to complete, what quality of work to expect.
  2. When given basic tasks to do, go above and beyond. Make sure to do them the best way possible and take it upon yourself to get involved in more complicated tasks.
  3. Document your ramp-up. This not only helps you but also helps future team members. Start a public document. Note down every question you've had during ramp-up and its answers. It's very likely future team members will have the same question. You're already putting in the work to figure things out. You might as well document them publicly. Your team will appreciate it.
  4. Over-communicate. Don't assume people know anything about what issues you're struggling with or what progress you've made. When in doubt, write your thought process down.
  5. Ask a lot of questions, but do research and think of potential solutions first. Explain what you got stuck on, what research you've done, what the potential solutions are, and ask if the solutions are viable.
  6. No one's perfect. You will certainly do a lot of things the wrong way and receive negative feedback. But own up the mistakes. Explain where your understanding was incorrect. Keep a list of lessons learned. Check it over before you submit your work for feedback, so you don’t make the same mistake again.
  7. Treat work as a continuation of college where you get paid. Keep learning. Explore the existing code base. Read through all the docs that interest you. Check out that design that looks intriguing.
  8. Do a pair session with an experienced team member. The goal of this is to understand the end-to-end workflow, the documentation, the communication channel, etc.
  9. Reach out to long-time employees. Ask them what do they do day-to-day. Have them tell you other interesting people to know.
  10. Reach out to recent new grads. Ask them what resources were particularly helpful during their first year. Have them tell you the mistakes they made and what they learned from it.
  11. Reach out to team members. Ask them what do they need help the most right now. Have them tell you what the team's goals are.
  12. Find (or start) a social support group. If possible, find people at a similar stage in their career, so you can shoot the breeze, vent when things don't well, and celebrate when things go your way.

That's it for today! If you have any topics that you are interested in hearing about, please let me know!

This is a cross post from my newsletter about career growth advice for new grads. If you're interested, subscribe at newgrads.substack.com.