This season's college graduates will one day have something to show for their studies, not to mention all the cover letters and resumes they've been sending out. They'll have new jobs, their first of their careers.
Every generation is said to be doing unprecedented things in unprecedented times. This generation is no different -- entering a tech-oriented workforce that they will soon dominate. It's estimated that Millennials -- those born between 1980 and 2000 -- will make up half of the workforce by 2020 and count for 75 percent of it by 2025. Today's are our future business leaders, and they are just starting out. We were all new at the career thing at one time. Here are five tips for how today's new professionals handle their first job -- and beyond.
1. Get up to speed -- fast.
There's a honeymoon period with every new job. Don't squander it. In your first few weeks, seek to learn everything you can about your employer, your team and your role. Listen. Participate. Be curious.Think like an outsider, because you kind of still are, and ask questions.
If your boss doesn't suggest it, ask for a list of colleagues, stakeholders and others in the company you should get to know right away -- and then reach out to request introductory meetings. Your manager and others will be impressed by your initiative.
Bottom line: Don't count on your boss to onboard you. Many don't care to, don't know how to or don't think they have time to.
2. Make recommendations.
For every project you're on, issue you encounter or assignment you've been given, your job is to own it. You do that not just by identifying problems, but by also coming up with solutions. Don't leave things for your boss to figure out. Make a recommendation.
Bottom line: This is how you demonstrate that you can anticipate, solve problems, think critically and lead.
3. Sign up for the company 401(k) ASAP.
I wouldn't be honoring my early career as a personal finance writer, if I didn't include this one. The old adage about paying yourself first will always be true. Because you're likely to move jobs more frequently than your Baby Boomer predecessors, you want to always sign up for your company's retirement plan as soon as you are eligible. Don't let a lot of "down time" keep you from building a nice big nest egg for retirement.
Bottom line: Even if you can't picture retirement, think of your retirement savings as money that will buy you choices for when you are tired of working or want to do whatever you want to do.
4. Do your own PR.
Nobody will ever care as much about your career as you do. You're going to have to do your own public relations now and then, and I believe the best spot to showcase your career is LinkedIn. Don't wait until you are job hunting to get your LinkedIn profile in order. Take time to keep your profile current, updating it each time you take on a new responsibility, are promoted, earn an award or certification or change jobs. Take time to build and get to know your connections, too.
Bottom line: It's about being prepared and staying on people's radar. You might not be you actively looking for a new job, but you never now when an opportunity might come your way.
5. Make a case for what you want.
I'm specifically thinking of promotions, new responsibilities and raises here. If you've done the fourth item on this list -- kept your LinkedIn profile current -- then you are also better prepared for this task: making a case to your supervisor as to why you are deserving of the next rung on your career or a bigger paycheck.
Another way to make sure you remember all of your greatness is to keep a journal -- written or on your computer. When it comes time to have the annual review -- and raise -- talk with your boss will help that you have already chronicled your achievements.
Bottom line: Too often at work, we're so busy finishing one big project or meeting a big deadline that when we do it's immediately onto the next. By taking stock of your achievements along the way you are better able communicate all that you have delivered and make your case for what you want.