Just a few months ago, thousands of college graduates left the familiarity of their college campuses to embark on a new journey and officially begin their careers. At Alliance Data, we recently welcomed many of them into our six-month Initial Career Experience (ICE) program. This program is a great way for graduates and entry-level associates to adapt to the working world and set themselves up for success at Alliance Data. ICE participants have the unique opportunity to experience our company through two job rotations. During each rotation, they start to discover their strengths and explore their interests – with the ultimate goal of finding their best fit within our organization.
As a recruiter and advisor for the ICE program, I spend most of my days talking to incoming and current ICE participants. I hear first-hand how excited they are to start their new jobs, and I also hear many of their nervous questions. Here are my answers to their most common questions in five simple tips, which are helpful whether you’re an ICE participant, intern, or new millennial entering the workforce.
Make it happen.
No one is going to plan your day for you. Take initiative to organize your schedule, prioritize your tasks, and set personal goals. Challenge yourself with these goals, and break out of your comfort zone. Go to meetings with your own ideas ready and be prepared to speak up – especially if you have a question or don’t understand the discussion.
Ask your leader for a list of 10 people to meet with in your first few weeks. These could be teammates you’ll work with every day, people you can learn from, or peers in different departments and roles you’d like to learn about. You’ll quickly notice that one meeting might lead to introductions with several people, and that can only help you. Meeting fellow associates and learning about their roles will build your business perspective – and give you connections for the future. It’s also good to have a “yes” mentality when invited to events around the office. That’s how you’ll start to build friendships!
Spend your time wisely.
If you have downtime in your first few weeks, use it to your advantage.
- Knock out any required training courses, or sign up for additional courses to learn about the business and build your soft skills, like organization and time management.
- Review old projects completed by your team, and talk to your peers about how you can impact future projects. Ask about their challenges, and take notes so you can help with those challenges next time around.
- Take time to get organized and practice responding to emails with prompt, professional answers.
- Find out what industry or news publications your team reads, and sign up for daily alerts or emails. And be sure to read any internal publications or the intranet at your company; you’ll learn a lot about the culture from these materials.
Locate the coffee.
Who doesn’t need a little caffeine in the morning? You should definitely find the coffee during your first week, but go beyond that. Figure out your entire morning routine and how to start your day with energy and enthusiasm. Many people attribute their success to a strong morning routine, so begin to establish yours! Start by making a list of your priorities for the day and printing your daily calendar.
Own your personal brand.
The things you do and say build your personal brand and reputation. Be sure your personal brand is a reflection of whom you really are. It’s important to be professional, but it’s also important to be yourself. Be comfortable, be confident, and let others get to know the real you. It will help you build trust and strong work relationships around the office. This is a fresh start, and it’s time to build a reputation and career that you are proud of!