The Baby Face Phase: How to be Taken Seriously at Work as a Millennial

Your hands are subtly sweaty as you shake the hand of your brand-new supervisor. You hope he/she didn’t notice. Why are you so nervous? It’s the first day of your job as an “official” adult, of course! The inaugural day at your first official job after college comes with lots of uncertainty, a bit of uneasiness and a whole bunch of nervous excitement. I’ve held six internship positions, and I can say the nerves you experience at an internship are nothing compared to the first-day nerves you feel like a fresh college graduate! The pressure seems almost insurmountable because of your inescapable expectations. You’re in a new environment with a group of strangers who you want to impress, so what do you do? Follow these steps to be taken seriously at work, and remember that you’re awesome!

Do Your Research

There is nothing more impressive than a lovely lady who knows her stuff. Be that spankin’ brand new grad who is research oriented and fully invested in the company. I guarantee that it will immediately get you categorized as an all-star employee. There’s nothing worse than sitting around a board room table unaware of what is going on. When you’re the newbie, your best bet is to eat, live, and breathe whatever company you’re working for until you become accustomed to your position. Many new employees who don’t do their research will try and look to the other colleagues in the room for an answer—but don’t look to them because they won’t help you stand out. That’s your role, superstar!

Dress the Part

A tight body-con skirt and 6-inch heels in the workplace? Yeah, not a good idea…ever. To avoid any confusion about dress code, ask your supervisor BEFORE the first day. My rule of thumb is to ask as early as your initial interview. It shows that you are responsible, prepared, and ready to represent the company appropriately. On my first day on the job after college, I went with an outfit that I knew would give off a great first impression. An appropriate pencil skirt, a simple colored button down shirt (avoid wacky colors on the first day) and a nice pair of business shoes. I can be a little clumsy when I get nervous on the first day, so classy ballerina flats are my go-to. Once you find out the dress code, you can spread your wings and try various outfits. Play it safe and always ask!

Put on a Good Face

I am extremely guilty of being a cupcake full of rainbows on the inside but looking like someone just killed my cat and I’m on the hunt for revenge on the outside. I tend to look extremely serious when I’m nervous or anxious, which causes me always to be aware of making sure to smile when I meet people. The worst thing you want to do is allow your nerves to give you a look of disinterest, so smile! Remember why you want the job so bad and use those positive vibes to boost your morale. Companies love employees who look excited and ready to work. If you get nervous, think of how your superiors were once in your same shoes as newbies. If you have a bit of social anxiety, give yourself a pep talk. I do it every day before I get out of my car. I say a serenity prayer and look at myself in the mirror and say, “You got this girl.” After that, I conquer the world.

Ask Questions

On your first day, information will be tossed at you rapidly, and the thought of remembering it all can leave your head spinning. No one will expect you to remember it all by heart, but they do expect you to take notes. I can’t say it enough! Although supervisors secretly love answering your questions, they DO NOT like continuously repeating themselves. Stay on track with whatever method of note taking works best for you. On my first day as an Assignment Editor, I carried around a small reporter notepad to take notes. I would jot down everything from rules to questions.Find time to speak with your supervisor about questions that you jot down. If you can, invite them out for coffee. The two of you can talk business in a relaxed environment, and you’ll learn a ton, I promise.

Remember Why They Hired You

Things can be overwhelming on the first day, and you may even have thoughts like, “Am I qualified to do this?” Immediately dismiss those negative thoughts! The company hired you for a reason because they see your potential. They won’t expect you to be perfect and know everything. They just want you to learn and grow. Take advantage of everything that your position has to offer. You won’t regret it!