We always have a bunch of interns at Catalyst. And most folks on the Catalyst team have cut their teeth in their “first job” here at Catalyst. They are all really talented, really sharp, and really hungry to learn.
Having young early 20 somethings around reminds me of the days when I started my first “real” job just after college. And while that wasn’t that long ago, I feel like there are a few things I’ve learned since then that might be good reminders for recent college graduates, or those just entering the “workforce.”
1. Show up on time (early). As I tell our team all the time: If you are on time, you’re late. If you are early, you’re on time.
2. Always have something to write with and write on. This is crucial. Don’t go strolling off to a meeting without pen and paper, unless you are planning to take notes on your phone, on your iPad, or on your laptop.
3. Be informed. Regardless of what you are doing, be informed before you get there- whether that’s a new job, or a meeting, or a lunch appointment. Do some research and show up educated about the topic, about the person, or about the context.
4. Be intentional. Start your first day by asking great questions and being inquisitive.
5. Request the tough assignments. Take initiative and request the tough assignment that no one else really wants. Not as a brown noser, but as a go getter.
6. Relentlessly get things done. When given responsibility and a task to get done, make it happen and try your best to get it done early. Then anticipate what else needs to get done beyond what you were assigned, and get that done. Under promise and over deliver.
7. Remember names. If you are new in a large office with hundreds of staff, this one can be especially difficult. But it’s your responsibility. Know everyone by their first and last name within your first week. If that means studying the staff directory at night, so be it.
8. Know what your leader/boss appreciates. If your boss appreciates humor, then lean into that. If your boss appreciates staying late, then lean into that. If your boss appreciates constant feedback, lean into that. If your boss appreciates Chipotle, lean heavily into that….!!
9. Figure out the team culture, embrace it, and add to it. Our team culture at Catalyst includes several key elements- food, hard work, loud, fun, young, etc. Whatever the key elements of a team culture where you are coming in as the newbie, try to add to it. So, for example, if your team’s culture is built around food, then add to that and bring in some snacks without being asked. If it’s celebration, then add a new way to celebrate. If it’s being loud, add a new loud instrument to the team breakroom.