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Work Productivity and Hacks

5 mistakes fresh grads make at the start of their careers

By Joseph Cueto on May 5, 2015

Recently, Facebook’s “On This Day” tool reminded me of a favorite quote I posted as a status message a year ago. The quote is from John Maxwell and it reads, “It's said that a wise person learns from his mistakes. A wiser one learns from others' mistakes. But the wisest person of all learns from others' successes.” Reading this quote got me thinking about all the times in my career, when I made, fortunately, small mistakes at work. Much of these mistakes - or as I would put it, “learning opportunities” - occurred as I was starting out my career as a project-hire for a multinational bank. I have gone on to work for various industries such as healthcare and business process outsourcing (BPO) since then. Over this 12-year period, I was fortunate enough to gain all kinds of learning experiences. But looking back, the really important lessons for me were delivered during this formative stage.

In the name of Kalibrr's mission to make you a wiser worker, here’s a rundown of the personal lessons I've gained and hopefully for all of you fresh grads, it'll be a guide of what to watch out for. Trust me, these are items for the not-to-do list:

1. Thinking that you do not deserve to do menial tasks

My first job involved doing filing work of old credit card applications in the stock room as well as stuff that are of the “may be assigned other tasks from time to time” variety. Nope, there were no negative reactions on my part but others may not respond the same way. Everyone starts at the bottom but doing menial tasks is a learning experience in itself. It’s a chance to show your drive, capability, and initiative, which can be a springboard for bigger and better tasks.

2. Forgetting to say or not saying thank you

Courtesy is never out of fashion. In my experience at work or during my practicum days, the person assigned to be my immediate superior would always emphasize the value of being courteous. Be sure to say thank you to anyone who went out of their way to help you. Regardless if the help given is in a small or big capacity, or if the valuable assistance is given by your immediate superior or the office janitor, a sincere thank you goes a long way.

3. Not putting effort in forging relationships with more experienced colleagues.

It took a while to get this lesson since I am an introvert. I usually take a longer time to warm up to people, hence, I spent most of my time with teammates of the same age bracket. They can be a valuable resource in a lot of ways. They can serve as a mentor, orienter, role model, and friend, among other positive roles they bring to the table.

4. Not being thorough

Being thorough means doing your homework painstakingly when a task is assigned to you. It’s a big compliment to be called a “thorough worker” since it connotes that you put in the utmost care and attention to detail not just in the submitted output but also during the thought process.

5. Not watching what you post on social media

Being professional definitely extends to your social media profiles. This is no longer the time to highlight sophomoric antics and rants for your current and future co-workers to see. Your image as a young professional can be influenced by the type of stuff you post on your Facebook and Twitter. Be careful because social media’s walls have virtual eyes and ears.

No matter what your job title, tenure, or IQ would be, we are all prone to making occasional mistakes at work. It never ends. But, bounce back by applying the lessons it was meant to teach you.

Do you have your own tips for our fresh graduate friends? Share them with us in the comments below.