Three Ways to Succeed at Your First Job

I tried to find the most stereotypical, cheesy and lame photos for “success at work” to use on this blog and I had plenty of options! Here’s the best I could come up with:

Last summer I was in Nashville, TN for a week taking on a “mini-internship” with a local record label. (You can learn more about my summer of eight mini-internships here). One of the most unexpected and rewarding parts of this week was the opportunity I had to sit down with their CEO and ask some questions!

In hindsight, one of the best questions I asked was essentially this: “In one year I will (hopefully) start my first full-time job out of college. What advice would you give me to succeed at that job no matter what it is?”

So what does the Founder & CEO of this national record label say to me?

Austin, success in your first job is really simple. No matter what the company or job title, they’ve essentially hired you to do three things: Show up early, stay there late, and take out the trash.

Then he unpacked it like this:

1.  Show Up Early

This one is really simple. Don’t be a sloth in the morning. Your most productive and creative time is most likely in the early morning so wake up and use it! Get ready for the day so you can show up to work 30 min early and already bring your “A Game” while everyone else is still waking up.

2.  Stay There Late

The 9-5 workday is a myth unless you want to resign yourself to a job you can’t wait to walk away from every afternoon. Don’t stay late just to look busy or productive but realize that your new employer hired you to accomplish objectives and projects, not just throw away 2080 hours a year.

3. Take Out The Trash

This point requires a bit more explaining. It don’t mean just physically emptying trash around the office (although that’s not a bad idea). It’s a reminder not to develop a sense of ego or entitlement around your job description. If there’s something that needs doing around the office, do it! Jumping in and serving is one of the quickest ways to earn the loyalty and respect of your coworkers.

Was he suggesting that I become a workaholic to get ahead? I don’t think so. He was saying that discipline, commitment, and enthusiasm are contagious. Not only will they spread to your coworkers, they’ll spread to other parts of your own life as well.

Show up early.

Stay there late.

Take out the trash.

How well does this magic formula work?

Well I’m just starting my first job out of college so I’ll let you know in a year or so!