During seminars I give about young people entering the workplace, one issue crops up all the time. “These twenty-somethings come in and expect to take over the company right away,” older managers complain.
Whether you’re twenty-two or sixty-two, arriving on the scene like a bulldozer is not good strategy for starting off a new job on the right foot. Here’s a reality check. Inevitably, your days at a new job will involve administrative work in some shape or form. If you’re a recent graduate, there is a good chance the company sold you on using your existing skills to do meaningful work, and thus, you are probably insulted to be answering phones for the price of a college education. My best advice is to think of your time as an administrative assistant as a rite of passage. Everyone must do it, and by the time you emerge from your mountain of executive expense reports, you will appreciate the mundane tasks that go into running a business and will have the knowledge and experience to contribute in a consequential way.
When your manager involves you in a project that includes co-workers, resist the temptation to jump in and start running the show. Do more than your share of listening and ask for direction from your teammates rather than suggesting your own course of action.
Nothing turns people off like a newbie who waltzes in and says, “Well, at my old company, we did it like this.” The second that comes out of your mouth, people will think that since things were so swell at your old company, maybe you should go back. This is the last thing you want. For the sake of your reputation, use your first projects as an opportunity to observe how things are done at your new company. You’ll have your time in the sun soon enough.