Posted July 16, 2013 by

8 Tips Every New College Grad Needs to Succeed

Abby Euler

Abby Euler, Salary.com contributing writer

Congratulations. After four years of classes, midterms, finals, projects, reports, stress, growth, and everything else higher learning brings with it, the time is here. You’ve graduated.

So now what?

All of you have degrees in hand, and the lucky among you have already secured your first jobs. But while the degree may have helped you get the job, success within the position is totally up to you from here on out. This is no longer a classroom, it’s a real-live business that is now depending on you to thrive and help it do the same. And if you don’t, there’s no extra credit – just the unemployment line.
I know, I’ve been there. So here’s what I’ve learned in the 10 years since my own graduation to get you off on the right foot. Congratulations, and good luck.

8. Your Job Doesn’t Have to Relate to Your Degree

Only 54% of Americans work in an industry directly related to their college degree, according to a 2013 Salary.com poll. Yes that is sobering, but also a lesson in exploring all your options. If you limit your career to the most obvious choices, you risk missing out on something potentially spectacular.

7. Opinions are Great, Data is Better

Just assume you are not the smartest person in the room.

This is not to say youth equals stupidity. You have life experience, yes, but your colleagues are looking for data not conjecture. You were safe to float theories and hypothesize in the classroom, but now you’ll have to back your gut feeling with actual numbers and truths. Do this and you will be well on your way to becoming a trusted asset.

 6. Become a “Subject Matter Expert”

There are two ways to approach this:

  1.     Find a business hole related to something you already have expertise in, and fill it!
  2.     Find something you’re passionate about or volunteer to learn as much as you can to help fill that void, regardless of your experience or interest.

Example: your company is considering building a mobile application. So take one hour each day to educate yourself on the mobile space and begin offering up what you learn to the business. With a steady beat of data points over the course of days, weeks and months, you can systematically insert yourself as the subject matter expert on any subject. Then you’re the go-to guy/gal whenever this subject comes up, which builds up your value within the company.

5. Understand Your Own Company

I’m always surprised to talk to people who’ve been in their jobs six months or a year who, when asked what their company does, fumble around before producing a half incoherent answer that tells me they’re not exactly sure.

Most companies have an entire product offering, multiple business units, and tiered go-to-market strategies. You do not need to become an expert in everything that makes your business run, but you should be able to speak intelligently to the entire business. That won’t happen overnight, but it’s a valuable knowledge set to acquire.  Continue reading . . .

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