The New Year is filled with new opportunities, and many college students and graduates are
kicking off 2020 with new classes, capstone internships, and full-time jobs. These new
experiences are exciting, and each provides an opportunity for strategic students and
graduates to effectively maximize the outcomes in order to position themselves for career
At Early Stage Careers, we not only help clients get the jobs or internships they want, we
guide them on how to lay the groundwork to maximize these opportunities. Whether one is
starting a new class, internship or job, these are a few areas to invest time in before getting
caught up in the hard work that lies ahead.
If you’re starting a new internship or job, set aside time to do fresh research about the
organization. Look at anything you can find about the company – try to understand how it is
organized, and what lingo is used to describe its divisions, products and clients. Discover
materials about its history, and make sure you’re familiar with the organization’s mission.
No, you don’t need to read the entire 850-page book about the founder before you start, but
having a grasp on the company’s roots, goals, and trajectory is going to be helpful as you
start to meet senior people on the job.
An experience is oftentimes defined by the people – and it’s important to learn about the
backgrounds of the people you will work most closely with. If you’re beginning an internship
or job, you should be familiar with the backgrounds of your manager, and any senior people
in your area. Use tools such as LinkedIn, and for startups, try Crunchbase or find media
coverage of their founding. Glean what you can – see where they’ve worked before, or where
they attended school. You may discover you share common bonds – maybe you’re both
alumni of the same college – and at the very least you’ll be better prepared with questions for
them as you develop rapport. If your peers or others in your industry participate in
professional organizations, you may want to consider joining – keep in mind, many offer low
rates for early careerists or students.
If you’re starting a new class, learn about the professor’s background and if they specialize in
any areas. Discover the papers or books your professor published, and search for online
interviews. It’s also important to find out if your professor employs students to join them in
their research work, and how you might be able to apply. If your class will be taught by a TA
or adjunct professor, you should learn about them as well – they may have a job outside of
school and by getting to know them, this may lead to future opportunities.
Remember to approach things from a personal standpoint, not just a career-oriented one.
Your co-workers and professors may very well grow to be lifelong friends – by investing in
those around you, you will bolster your personal life in addition to furthering career
Move Beyond Your Job Search
If you’re starting a new position, it’s time to embrace the end of your job search. Turn off the
job alerts and any other notifications you no longer need. Clear the decks on your computer
and email to file away the cover letters, resume drafts and job descriptions you have
accumulated during your search. You can store the important materials – you may one day
reuse some of them or share some with friends looking for similar roles. By eliminating
distracting relics of the search process, you can allocate greater focus to the upcoming
experience you will be beginning.
Preparing For Your Opportunity
In the days leading up to a new experience, you can reduce stress by making sure you’re
prepared for all aspects of the opportunity. Practice the commute or route to your classes to
understand what the journey will be like. Is it really a 15-minute route during rush hour, on
city streets or across a bustling campus? Is the building easy to find, and do you need to
account for any additional time to get to the classroom or office? It’s good to be sure, as you
don’t want to arrive frazzled and tardy on your first day. You may even want to lay out your
clothes for the first day or two in advance, so you have one fewer thing to worry about in the
Adjusting to Company Culture
Once you are on the job, be sure to follow the culture of the environment, and when in doubt,
choose the conservative path. For example, don’t use your cell phone while at your desk, and
be sure it’s set to silent. If you experience downtime, ask your supervisor how to best
manage that, and find things to do that are company-focused. If you are having difficulty
with anything, don’t be afraid to seek guidance – you can ask questions of those within the
organization, and rely on an external mentor or career coach for feedback on how to approach
delicate workplace situations.
Spread The Word
For a new internship or first job, if you haven’t done so already, be sure to tell friends,
family, and your full network about your new role. Thank them for their support in helping
get you to this important milestone. Your exciting news will likely increase your contacts, as
you hear about other people who work there, used to work there or want to work there.
Overall, having time before you begin something new is a luxury that does not come along
very often in life. Most changes occur unexpectedly and immediately. Use this time to
discover what is most interesting to you about what lies ahead and plan to engage with the
place, the people and the experience fully.