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  • Writer's pictureJovanay Carter

From Graduation to Corporate: 10 Tips for Doing Well in Your First Job

Woman wearing blue  shirt and wool skirt, disheveled on the phone
Photo: Anne Hathaway in The Devil Wears Prada (2006)

Congratulations 2024 Graduates!

As students are wrapping up walking across college stages and turning their tassels, we celebrate you all! 

But now that grads are stepping out of the classroom and into the office–the adjustment can be tough. How do you make a great impression at work? How do you make friends at a new job? What if you’re yet-again the only person of color or woman in the room?

This time can be very overwhelming as you prepare for the transition to the workplace. 

I had my own major life crisis at this age. Not only was I a first-generation college graduate, but I was also first-generation corporate. I was overwhelmed, barely making my New York City rent, and had no idea the sort of depression that could come post-grad. I had gone from graduating with a mountain of awards in academics to barely being able to complete a work assignment before the deadline. It was a major shot to my confidence and a complete change of environment. Anne Hathaway in the Devil Wears Prada never made so much sense until that moment.

In my first 5 years post-grad, I figured out a few things about having mentors, finding my community, and doing quality work. I summed things up in these into these 10 tips for doing well on your first corporate job. I hope these tips help new grads in this season. 

  1. Ask for help. No one there expects you to be perfect or know how to do everything.You’ll save so much time, stress, and disappointment by asking for help sooner rather than later. Give yourself a small window of time to figure it out, and if you can’t, ask someone–a peer, a mentor, google, anyone!

  2. Build a system. You’re likely to be asked to do the same few tasks until you master those and then get more responsibility. Write down your process in steps (Notion is great for this) and then edit it as you learn ways to optimize your process. This is great for writing down your mistakes and learning from them, including everything from how to send an email to your more complicated tasks.

  3. Work hard. I remember feeling early on that every work day felt like a day in finals season. Early on when you’re learning so many new things, the only way to get better is to truly commit to learning.

  4. Find some work friends. You need at least one or two trustworthy people who understand the frustration and complexities from within the job. Who you can sit with to celebrate a small win over a bug that took days to figure out or for a moment to take a lonnnng deep breath after a micro-aggression from a coworker. I promise these friends are worth the investment.

  5. Seek out mentors and sponsors. The best mentors in my experience have been outside of my direct team, or even outside of my company. They believe in you and help guide you in your career. Meanwhile, sponsors are advocates that are in a position of power. Sponsors see your work and they go to bat for you behind the scenes.

  6. Keep learning. When you realize you don’t know something, spend time (yes, even time outside of work) to upskill and grow. It helps you become stronger and more confident in the long run. Keep bringing something new to the table and you’ll keep yourself engaged and make a great impression on the team.

  7. Keep up your wellness. Working out, eating a well-balanced diet, and sleeping helps you sustain and prevent burnout. Every now and then, work might take more hours than expected, but try to keep boundaries around your sleep and outside-of-work schedule.

  8. Have a life outside of work. Keep exploring what activities you can be involved in and find a community for it. Having hobbies helps you to tether yourself and your identity to more than just your job. That way you have a way to decompress and a community that knows your value. 

  9. Take your faith seriously. For me, Christian faith has always been a place of peace and hope. But my faith grew to be a real grounding source for me as I started joining small groups, started serving in church, and building a true community. My identity also didn’t waver so much when something went wrong at work or even when I experienced layoffs. Your faith keeps you standing when life itself hits you the hardest.

  10. It’s not that deep. Give yourself grace to mess up and learn! You are discovering a whole new way of doing things. Learning multiplication was easily the hardest thing I had ever done until long division came around. Same thing here, it’s hard now, but you’ll get it and be great in no time!

And If you graduated this year, you already survived college during a pandemic!? Work will be a piece of cake. You guys got this!

This article was written by Jovanay Carter, Co-Founder and CEO of the The Dev Difference. Check out for AI-based mock interview prep and more job-related content.

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