This year, after six years of studying engineering, I was ready to apply what I learned to industry. I recently began working at Lynntech, Inc. in College Station, a technology development company that uses the latest engineering research to tackle proposals put forth by the U.S. government. For those of you graduating soon and preparing to begin your career, here are five tips to make the most of your first few months in the office.
1. Introduce yourself early
Being the new employee e can be nerve-wracking, but getting to know your coworkers can take the pressure off your shoulders. Sometimes, initiating conversation with people can be exhausting, but getting past the “smiling at each other in the hallway phase” of a coworking relationship helps the company really feel like a place where you are comfortable. By building a network of people to have conversations with, you learn who to talk to when you need to solve a specific problem, build a professional development network and even make friends to spend time with outside of work.
2. Read everything you can
When you start at a company, chances are you aren’t going to know exactly how to accomplish the work your company performs. Your coworkers will be aware of this, and they will patiently help you get acclimated. But it is always a good idea to take initiative and try to learn as much as you can on your own. Most companies have network storage filled with archived projects and helpful documentation. Scouring through old projects is a good way to read up on the work your company has done in the past, assess strategies used to hurdle specific problems and get used to the expected styles of documentation and presentation.
3. Discover your work style
Every engineer has a different personality and skill set. As the new person in the office, it can be tempting to mimic the work patterns and styles of those around you. But remember, you are unique, and your ideal work style may not be the same as your manager or the person in the cubicle next to you.
I am a highly extroverted person, and I work best when I am regularly engaged in conversations throughout the day. During my second week of work, I was told I could attend a daily meeting with the subsystem leads on my project to better familiarize myself with the project. Some people hate meetings and think they are a waste of time, but I know I am most engaged with a project when I am discussing both the big picture and details out loud.
4. Ask a LOT of questions
Don’t be afraid to ask questions; your coworkers know that you are new, and they want to help you work efficiently. Whenever you hear a concept you don’t know, add it to a list for when you sit down with someone for clarification later. If you remain confused about terminology or methodology, you are only hurting yourself when you need to implement it in your work later.
5. Don’t burn yourself out
Staying late is a waste of time for everyone involved if you don’t even know enough about your project yet to contribute well. Balancing life and work is crucial to being the best well-rounded individual you can be, and it is never worth risking your mental health and well-being just to impress your manager or coworkers.
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