I wish there was a manual or guide book that would give me step-by-step advice on how to navigate and succeed in the first year of my career.

When I found myself on the receiving end of an angry reprimand from my boss, I was mortified. There wasn’t anything I could have said or could have done to rectify the situation. I’d violated a major business no-no .All the tips and tricks I’d picked up along the way had gone completely out of the window. I knew from that point on, I’d have to tame and temper my ambitious and confident personality at my job. Life had opened the door to teach me what I needed to know, and this is what I’ve learned along the way.

Don’t Go Over Their Head: The angry reprimand that I received early on was the result of my going directly to my boss’s Boss! (I’m still squeamish from this incident). If there’s ever a problem or question you have, go to your direct supervisor or manager. Don’t ignore the chain of command in an office. Doing so could perhaps violate company Standard Operating Procedures or place your head on the chopping block.

Check your attitude at the door, or leave it at home: When first starting off, tone down any strong points in your character, so as to not intimidate or come off too strongly to others. In other words, humble yourself, immensely. I’m not saying dumb yourself down or change who you are, but feel out the atmosphere and environment of your company. Get to know the corporate culture so that way you may adjust yourself to fit in. It’s great to have a unique personality, but try not to be the ugly duckling.

Your attitude can hinder you from being successful, and you’ll end up missing out on numerous profitable opportunities and gainful experiences. For instance, I’m not a drinker, and can be prudent at times. I wasn’t aware that my behavior would cause a conflict at company functions. This was brought to my attention by a trusted friend who shared with me some valuable insights. Now, I know how to “fake” my drinking, and am less inhibitive in social situations. You have to make the power’s that be, feel comfortable around you, without compromising your principles and morals.

Get Out of the “That’s Not in My Job Description” Mentality: There’s no surer way to prohibit any progress or advancement in your career than to only stick to what’s within your job description. The receptionist who dreams of being a CEO but rolls her eyes at the thought of taking on more work or working longer hours has limited any future potential she has for moving up in the company. Show that you are willing to “pay your dues” and go the extra mile in your work. Before being directly hired by my company, I was the only temp known to work late hours and go the extra mile to satisfy a team or client’s needs. I could have been like most people and protested when my responsibilities shifted from filing and copying to project coordination and management, especially if the pay didn’t. However, I didn’t; hence ,six months later I was hired by my company to pilot an evolutionary role in my department.

“Fake it, ‘til you make it”: Dream, think, envision, PRETEND that you’re already where you want to be in your career. Begin to acquire the traits and skills of the role you want, and it will come to you. Once you realize this, begin to speak and act as if it were. Don’t be derailed by negativity or doubts, and continue thinking that that promotion, raise or title of CEO after your name will happen.

FOCUS: It’s a relief to have even been hired in this economy, but don’t turn into a drone. Stay focused on where you want your career to go. If you don’t have a plan, build one now! Lay out the steps, as to how you will achieve that goal or end result. Point out the assets or skill sets you have, and those you need to acquire. How do you view yourself as a resource, and how can your strengths and talents be of value to your company?

One more golden nugget: “No Man is an Island.” Clearly we cannot navigate our careers by ourselves. I’m living proof of that. Find a mentors and people who will give you the much-needed guidance throughout your first year. Mentors and close friends gave all of the lessons and tips I’ve shared, and for which I’m thankful.

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