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10 Things You Should Do In Your First Week in IT

10 Things You Should Do In Your First Week in IT
It’s your first week in the IT industry. This can be an overwhelming time in your career, as there’s so much to learn and a lot to do. Make it easier by learning ten things you can do in your first week in IT.

Learn Who The Key Contacts Are

Every office has a few key people that should be contacted in certain situations. Your manager should be able to help with most of the things that you do in your day-to-day activities.

However, some situations will call for others to help. These kinds of things your manager may not be able to do. What kinds of people are they?

There may be someone on your office that is responsible for fixing the printer when it breaks. The last thing you want is a broken printer when you need to print something important. If you know who to approach to report it, then you send the impression that you can take action and like to get problems solved.

There could be someone else that sets up access to systems, if it’s not your manager. These could be administration systems, workflow, documentation and email systems. Learn who these people are and speak to them if you need to.

There’s often also someone in the office that seems to know who everyone is. The kind of person who you can ask “who should I speak to about…” and they can tell you the answer. This is an important person to know as they can help you get things done easier.

Keep Asking Questions

The first week in any new job is tough, especially in IT. Organizations do the same things differently, and they often run different systems and applications. One way to find out about all of these is to ask questions.

Being the new person in a job means you’ll be asking a lot of questions. You won’t learn everything you need to know on your first day, though. I suggest you continue to ask questions after your first day.

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Ask people how things work, what needs to be done, when certain things happen, where information gets sent, and how things happen. Ask as many questions as you need. You’re the new person so you’re allowed to, and even expected to.

Be Proactive When Introducing Yourself

You’ll be seeing a lot of new faces in your new job. You may have met some people during the interview process and as part of your team on the first day, but you’ll see a lot more during your first week.

Try to take an active approach when meeting new people. There’s not always going to be someone around to introduce you, and if you work in the same office, you’ll probably see them again.

Starting off with a simple “Hi” is enough. You can mention you’re new here and ask for their name, and offer yours. Most people will be pretty friendly to the new person.

If they aren’t, don’t take it personally. They just might be having a bad day. If you stay positive about it, it will be easier to move on from it.

Learn the Unwritten Rules

Every office has a set of unwritten rules. And most offices are different. I’ve worked in a consulting role for the last few years, and have been in many different offices. I’ve noticed they all have their own unwritten rules, which are things that people do but don’t really talk about.

These unwritten rules can include things like:

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  • Who cleans the kitchen? When is it cleaned? Who is responsible for emptying and filling the dishwasher?
  • Is the fridge available for everyone to use? Are there certain sections that are everyone’s food and others that are private?
  • Do you need to book all meeting rooms before using them, or can you walk into it if they are free?
  • What happens when the coffee or tea runs out?
  • What happens when the printer runs out of paper or ink?
  • When and where do people eat lunch? Is eating at your desk acceptable or frowned upon?

It’s a good idea to notice little things like this and see if certain behaviors and events happen. It will make you fit in more and help you become more accepted in your new role.

Keep Track Of Your Accomplishments

Here will be a lot of things that you get to work on at the start of your IT career. This isn’t just in your first week–it applies to your first few months or first year. As the work comes and goes, you get things done, some big and some small. You may have some pretty big achievements in all of that.

When it comes time for your performance review, you’re often asked to list your achievements. Instead of trying to remember them all at the end of the year, I suggest writing them down and keeping a record of them as they happen. This will allow you to add more detail to them, as they are fresher in your mind, and will mean it’s easier for you to complete your performance review later in the year.

Write down small and big achievements. You can always trim the list later in the year if other, better achievements come along.

Organize Your Desk

You’ll most likely be spending a lot of time at your desk, at your computer. Even if you have a job that involves moving around and going to different places, you will probably find yourself at your desk quite a lot.

I suggest getting your desk organized early in your role. This doesn’t mean just setting up your keyboard and mouse. Get yourself some stationery if you need it, such as folders, pens, books, pen holders. If you need some document trays, try to get some of those. Get your phone connected, voicemail set up, and any other cables sorted out.

This will make it easier for you to do your job when you get busy. You don’t want to be figuring out how to get stationery or correcting a voicemail message when you’ve got other things that need to be done.

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Set Up a To Do List

One of the most effective ways to get things done at work is to set up a To Do list.

This is simply a list of things that you need to do at work. It can start small, with only a few things on it, like getting supplies or speaking to someone. As your role grows, you’ll get more work to do and need some way of tracking it.

I personally use Microsoft Outlook’s task feature to keep track of work-related tasks. It’s simple, and all of the places I’ve worked have Outlook installed. I’ve seen other people use Evernote or even a pen and paper. Whatever works for you, as long as you’re writing down what you need to do, you should receive the benefits of it.

Update Your Social Media

Getting a new job is great. It’s a big step in your career. It’s also important to make it known. Not in a bragging capacity, but just to let other people know. This should be done on your social media profiles.

The important one is LinkedIn, the professional networking site. Set up a LinkedIn profile if you haven’t already. If you have, update your title, company and role information. Making sure this is up to date will make it easier to connect with other people.

If you use other social sites like Facebook or Twitter, you may wish to update it there as well.

Learn Your Neighborhood

Where there are offices, there are usually smaller shops around to support them. Near offices, you can find coffee shops for the morning pick-me-up, cafés and sandwich shops for lunches, and even other services such as post offices and pharmacies. During your first week, it’s good to learn where these places are.

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Google Maps is a good tool for finding some of the bigger services. It may not be able to tell you where to find the best flat white coffee, but it can tell you where the nearest grocery store or post office is.

Have a walk at lunchtime or before work to see what’s in the area and what might be worth knowing about. This not only helps when you’re looking for it later, but you can also help when other people are looking for places.

Read Lots of Internal Documentation

Companies often send out internal documentation for their employees to read. This can come in many forms, such as emails, brochures, and larger documents. This documentation is used for many reasons including updating the staff on the latest events, promoting products, or offering  training.

A good way to improve your career and your effectiveness at your job is to read the documentation that the company provides. There should be documentation that relates to your role, such as how things work and how it all fits together.

There could also be other documents worth reading, such as company announcements, process documents and company history. This can make you more educated and informed about the company, which is often a good thing.

Well I hope these tips will be useful in your first week on the job. What other tips do you have for those in their first week?

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Published on October 8, 2019

How to Advance Your Career (and the Big Mistakes You May be Making)

How to Advance Your Career (and the Big Mistakes You May be Making)

The late writer William S. Burroughs once said that “When you stop growing, you start dying.” It might have a morbid undertone, but it’s one hundred percent true in terms of one’s career.

The days of finding a job with one company that you can stick with for 30 years, and simply relax as you move up its company escalator are few and far between in today’s world. This isn’t necessarily bad news. On the contrary, it means that you’re the one in charge of shaping your career advancement.

By putting these principles and behaviors into practice, you’ll begin to see how to advance your career quickly. Ready? Let’s get started…

1. Define What Success Is for You

There’s no right or wrong definition of what success in your career looks like. The important thing is to figure out what success looks like for YOU. It might, and probably will, change along the way, but if you don’t have some sort of milestone on the horizon, then you won’t know which direction to go in.

Think about success in your career in terms of one year, five years, and 10 years. Once you have that, it’s time to lace up your boots and get to work.

2. Learn How to Develop and Follow a Plan

Nobody just stumbles upon success accidentally. Sure, they may stumble upon breakthroughs or new methods accidentally, but all success stories have one thing in common — a plan.

Establish a timeline for the things that you want to achieve in your career in the next year, five years, 10 years, and so on. Consider the skills that you’ll need to learn to make these things happen and work on acquiring them.

3. Surround Yourself With Those Better Than You

It’s a rule of thumb among musicians that if you want to get better, then you need to get out of the bedroom and play with people who are better than you.

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By surrounding yourself with people who are better than you and where you want to be, you’ll not only see how these people climbed to where they are in their respective fields, but you’ll learn from them and naturally want to push yourself to be better in your own job as well.

4. Seek Out a Mentor(s)

A mentor will not only be able to help you refine and reach your career goals, but will be invaluable in landing promotions and finding unadvertised job openings.

One unique approach is to work on fostering a relationship with a mentor both within and outside of your company. This will help in giving you different perspectives as you rise up through the ranks in your company and career overall.

5. Stop Wasting Your Mornings

You may not think you’re a morning person, but if you can learn to be one, you’ll thank yourself 10 years down the road.

Prepare a to-do list of tasks that you want to accomplish the day before and work on knocking them out for at least one hour before you respond to morning emails. The problem with responding to emails first, is you’re giving your attention to somebody else’s agenda, instead of plotting your own course for the day.

6. Arrange or Attend a Networking Party

If you’re attending networking events simply because you might get a few free drinks, you’re doing them wrong. These events are great for meeting new people and forming relationships. Your goal shouldn’t be to get hired by the end of the night, but to simply make a good impression by being friendly and authentic. So what’s next?

Reach out a few days later via email or on social media to follow up and connect!

7. Pick Up Some New Skills

Nobody wants to be the old dog that can’t learn any new tricks. To move up in your career, you’re going to likely need to pick up new skills along the way. Maybe your company offers on-the-job training or you have the option of taking online classes at night.

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By learning new skills, you’ll not only be able to expand upon what you can already do, but you’ll make yourself more valuable to your employer and future employers.

8. Exploit the Benefits Already at Your Disposal

Remember what we just said about the possibility of your company providing on-the-job training? Take advantage of these sorts of benefits!

If you’re working for a company that allows you to job shadow other employees or has company mixers, you should attend these. They not only allow you to develop your skills within the company, but show seasoned executives within your field that you’re interested in more than just clocking in for a paycheck.

9. Make Yourself Indispensable

Good help is hard to find and employers want to retain outstanding employees. If you can learn to make yourself indispensable to your company, you’ll not only communicate that you’re successful, but will have a lot more job security. What’s this entail though?

It’s actually not all that difficult. By being reliable, adapting to new challenges, and holding your own work and performance to a high standard, you’ll stand out among your peers and others will take notice. Easy enough, right?

10. Get Off the Fence

People who advance in their careers are those who don’t shy away from voicing their opinion and stand up with authority when the opportunity arises.

If a problem arises in your company and you think you might have a solution or are willing to work to find one, then let others know. Employers value and promote problem solvers. Start off with something small and work your way up towards tackling more difficult tasks and projects.

11. Don’t Wait for More Responsibility, Ask for It

If you want more responsibility in your job, then be open about it with your manager. Your manager may be so busy with their own work that they weren’t aware you were looking for more challenges.

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Just make sure you can handle it and that you already show strong performance in your current duties. And if your manager doesn’t seem supportive about offering you more responsibility, well, then it could be time to look for new employment.

12. Stop Wasting Time on What You Don’t Want

If your career goals start with “I should do this…” there could be a problem. This kind of language in referring to goals can doom them to failure because the want isn’t there.

Consider using the RUMBA method (Reasonable, Understandable, Measurable, Behavioral and Agreed) when setting your goals. That “agreed” part should really be “want.” By going after career goals that you actually want to accomplish, you’re much more likely to achieve them.

13. Seek Out Feedback and Apply It

Simply doing your job might not always push you up in your career advancement. Too often, employees just assume that their bosses will notice their performance strides and reach out when the time is right to advance.

Don’t be afraid to regularly seek out feedback and ask for constructive criticism. It not only shows that you value your manager’s opinion but demonstrates that you care about your job and want to become better in your chosen field.

14. Pick Your Bosses Wisely

Advancing in your career can move a lot quicker if you’re working for the right people. If your boss isn’t any good at their job or doesn’t value you, then moving up could become difficult.

A great boss though, will be able to help you capitalize on your strengths and be an advocate for your success. If there aren’t any strong developers of talent in your management chain already, then look around for some and seek them out as mentors.

15. Learn to Develop Your Sense of Timing

The odds of asking for a promotion or raise are in your favor with over 70 percent of respondents to a survey from PayScale reporting some success. One thing to keep in mind that can make all the difference is when you ask.

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Some corporate cultures may prefer that employees reach out about advancement during their annual review, but maybe you work for a more free-spirited startup. The best approach may be to take note of when others advance and ask about how the organization handles employee development.

16. Work Hard and Promote Yourself

Working hard and delivering a solid job performance are the keys to advancing in your career no matter what field you’re in. This doesn’t mean you need to be completely humble about your accomplishments either.

Keep a record of your positive impact within the organization and let others both within your company and your field know that you’re enthusiastic about your role and work.

17. Don’t Just Build Your Network… Cultivate It

It’s way too easy to add new people to your LinkedIn network and then forget about them for all eternity. Rather than just collecting business cards or social media contacts, you should be cultivating relationships with the ones you already have.

Follow up with people that you haven’t spoken to in a while, offer to connect them with somebody you know in their field, or ask about a new job title they may have taken on. Doing so could be the spark that leads to a potential job referral.

18. Join a Professional Organization

The National Association of (insert your industry here) and other professional organizations can still offer a great wealth of advantages from networking to industry insights, and skill development.

Even outside of professional organizations dedicated to particular job fields, civic organizations can also be fantastic for making new contacts. After all, so much about career advancement is who you know, and you never know who you’ll meet who knows somebody else who is looking for someone with your skills and experience.

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Featured photo credit: JESHOOTS.COM via unsplash.com

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