Landing your first job is important. Landing a great first boss, however, is a whole other story. When it comes down to it, bosses are an important part of your career path. They shape your ideals, your insight, and have the potential to foster real passion for the industry.

But bosses can break you down, too. Research shows that three out of four employees report that their boss is the worst and most stressful part of their job. In fact, a boss’s actions account for 67 percent of an employee’s productivity.

Feel the pressure yet?

While you may believe you have your whole career to find a great boss, your first one is a crucial part of your professional future. In a sense, they can cultivate industry passion from the get-go, or make you second guess yourself. That’s why it’s so important to choose a boss who not only knows what they’re doing, but one who also has a vested interest in your performance.

So, what should you look for in a first boss in order to steer your career in the right direction?

Mentorship access

When you’re a beginner, you may believe you know it all. But even if you have tons of internships under your belt and lots of experience, you still have a lot to learn.

Access to mentorship opportunities is an important factor in determining a great boss, which is probably why 47.3 percent of interns said they were interested in access to executives and mentorship opportunities. A mentor teaches you the ropes, provides you with some key insights, and lets you know what to do to have a great career. Plus, it’s always good to have someone on the inside, especially someone who has reached a high level of success.

Try this: Request mentorship from the get-go. Many business leaders will have no problem acting as a teacher, but they won’t know you need one unless you ask for it.

Professional development encouragement

The benefits of professional development are plenty. For example, you can increase your skills, knowledge, build your network, and even discover what you’re really good at. Your first boss, whether it’s in an internship or entry-level job, should make these professional development benefits a priority. After all, if you aren’t discovering how to perform to the fullest, you’ll stay stagnant.

Professional development is both internal and external. On the internal side of things, your first boss should give you the tasks or opportunities that will help you to move up in the company. Externally, encouraging attendance at industry events, meetups, or virtual conferences can improve your knowledge base and keep you competitive in the industry.

Try this: If your first boss doesn’t prioritize professional development, ask them what you can do to stay fresh. You can also provide examples, such as a list of upcoming industry events, which shows you’re serious about moving your career forward.

Real-time feedback

If you aren’t performing well, you’d want to know as it happens, right? That’s why having a boss who provides real-time feedback is vital, especially if you’re a newbie. The sooner you know what you’re doing wrong, the quicker you can correct it.

Try this: Sit down with your boss and ask if you can have a weekly or bi-weekly meeting that addresses your performance. You can use this time to review your results so far on your current task list, and discuss areas of improvement going forward. While the meeting doesn’t have to be extensive, it can save you a lot of time in the long run.

While undoubtedly your focus is on finding an open position with a company you love, your first boss is crucial to your growth and success. So make sure you look for one who has the qualities to ensure a great experience for you now and in the future.

What do you think? What are some other qualities to look for in your first boss?

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