Tips for Success On the Job

General guidelines for success:

  • Carefully read all orientation materials
  • Set goals/priorities; be prepared; meet all deadlines
  • Ask questions when unsure; take notes
  • Always address full-time employees as Mr. or Ms. ____ until they ask you to address them by first name
  • Dress appropriately--don't be reluctant to ask what is considered appropriate
  • Always be tactful and diplomatic to hourly workers as well as management. Anyone who has worked for the organization for a while, in any capacity, has a lot to teach you

Be a "team player"

  • Do not compete with co-workers
  • Do routine jobs without complaining
  • Show initiative: if you run out of work, look for things to do and ask your supervisor how you can be most productive
  • Develop work relationships slowly after you know office politics
  • Always inform your supervisor of your whereabouts. Forward your phone when you're away from your desk

The following may be interpreted as irresponsibility and/or immaturity:

  • Personal phone calls (Ask your supervisor first if you must make a long-distance call from work)
  • Sloppy desk/work space
  • Talking about non-business matters during work hours
  • Sitting idle at your desk (Note: if you sleep at work, you will probably be fired)
  • Asking for time off (Work is a "no-cut" class)
  • Using office supplies for non-office use
  • Having visitors (friends or family) at work
  • Using foul or poor language

Observe your supervisor's priorities about:

  • Neatness of your work area
  • Confidentiality of materials
  • Coming in early or staying late
  • Lunch hour routine
  • Telephone etiquette
  • General office demeanor

Observe your supervisor's management style:

  • Does he/she prefer oral or written reports? What format and style?
  • Does he/she supervise closely or from afar?
  • Does he/she provide immediate responses to questions and problems or need time to think about them?

With respect to feedback and reviews:

  • If you have not received feedback on your performance after the first month, ask for it ("How am I doing? How can I improve?")
  • Accept criticism without being defensive
  • Do not interpret performance reviews as personal criticism. Remember, people want you to succeed

Take advantage of every opportunity to learn:

  • If you have time, read any available materials about the company, products, or the industry in general
  • Ask questions and observe people's behavior
  • Network whenever possible; attend social functions through work
  • Identify career tracks and their prerequisites
  • Ask for letters of recommendation at the end of your assignment