Tips for Success in the Workplace

You got the job… Now you need to do it well and make the right impression on your supervisor(s) and colleagues! Here are 20 tips to help you be successful in your workplace as a co-op, intern, or entry-level employee.

  1. Making the right impression starts on your first day in the office. Arrive on-time, dressed appropriately; act professional; and always show enthusiasm, no matter what you are asked to do. Remember that your assignments will become progressively more interesting and involved once you have shown what you can do!
  2. Be reliable. Notify your supervisor anytime you will be late for or absent from work. Follow through on your assignments and any commitments you have made at work.
  3. Be mindful of the chain of command in your office. If you are having a problem, go to your supervisor for assistance first. If the problem is WITH your supervisor, contact your Human Resources department.
  4. Take note of the office culture, and tailor your workplace behavior accordingly. Some workplaces are more formal, others more casual; in some workplaces, people engage in a lot of "water-cooler talk" whereas in others, people work quietly at their desks most of the day.
  5. Try to find some supportive and helpful colleagues, and get to know them. They can be great resources for you at work. If you are an intern or co-op student, get to know the other interns/co-ops so you can share information and support as you are learning your jobs.
  6. If you're lucky enough to find (or be assigned) a mentor in your workplace, nurture that relationship as best you can.
  7. Make an effort to get along with everyone at work, even with people who are difficult or annoying. Personality conflicts and clashes affect not only the work of the people in conflict but also that of others in the office.
  8. Don't be afraid to ask questions, especially when you are new on the job. Many workplace mistakes are the result of employees making false assumptions. It's best to ask if you aren't sure!
  9. Be a good listener. You don't know everything (especially when you're new), so don't act like you do! Learn to read your colleagues' body language—it will often let you know when you should stop talking and start listening.
  10. Learn to value the contributions of all your colleagues, even if you don't agree with all their ideas. Sometimes an idea that seemed "dumb" when proposed turns out to be a good one.
  11. Be ethical about how you use your time at work. Avoid spending much (if any) time on personal email, social networking, or web surfing. Find out whether or not your workplace has policies against use of personal email, Facebook, Twitter, etc.
  12. Be professional in your workplace communications, both oral and written. Check your spelling and grammar before sending emails to your supervisor(s), colleagues, or clients.
  13. Be on-time for staff meetings and contribute ideas whenever possible.
  14. Always be willing to expand your workplace knowledge and learn new skills. Never tell your supervisor(s) or colleagues that something "isn't my job."
  15. Provide your supervisor(s) with periodic status reports—ideally, before you are asked to do so.
  16. Exceed your supervisor's expectations whenever possible.
  17. Be willing to do what it takes to get your job done, even if that means working extra hours, some weekends, etc.
  18. Be cooperative, not competitive, with your colleagues. Offer new ideas and solutions when possible, but be willing to give others credit where it is due.
  19. If you work with customers outside your company or organization, treat them well. Happy customers can help businesses succeed—or cause them to fail. Seek help and support within your organization if you are having trouble dealing with a difficult customer.
  20. Try to maintain a positive attitude at work, even when things get difficult or frustrating.

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