The first year of your first job!

This is the second letter to myself in the past. The link to my first letter is at the bottom of this article.

If I get a chance (time machine to be precise!), I will send a letter to myself just one month before starting my career and share my learnings.

So if you are starting your career, you may find this article useful!

9th Sep 2009

Hi Praveen,

Well done completing your college studies and congratulations on getting selected in L&T!!

The next couple of months will be a crucial phase that will set up the direction in which your career and your life will steer. Here are few suggestions to you which can help you to better control your career:

The first month

  • You are about to start your career in a month. I will suggest doing thorough research about your company. Your company, just like a lot of other companies, has so many different departments and business units. Try to find out which department or unit you will be joining.
  • When you join, there will be an induction period for a month. The most important thing which you should not miss during the induction:

Make as many friends as you can during this period.

  •  Use this period for networking. Keep a note of people who come for induction.

 Companies usually send their best people for inductions.

Observe them. What is their job profile? Which person or their job is impressing you the most? What can you do to be in his/her position?

What can you do to onboard new hires in the next 4-5 years?

  • Your college alumni will be the best source to get some early insights. Whenever you know what role or job profile you will get, ask this simple question:

What is going to be your typical daily work activities for the next 1 year?

  • You will be introducing yourself to different people and teams. They can be your peers or senior members of your company. This may sound strange to you but practice your introduction!

It will be your first interaction with your team so you don’t want to goof up.

Include your hobbies and talents in your intro. You can also keep ready a one-slide introduction of yourself. Add pictures, your hobbies, and anything interesting about yourself.

Till your first year

  • During the initial 1 year, you can ask as many questions as you want. There is nothing like a silly question for a campus hire!

But don’t annoy someone, if there are a lot of questions, plan for a weekly or monthly meeting to discuss it.

  • Be honest about what you have understood and what you haven’t. Do not pretend that you know it all.
  • You will be on a steep learning phase for the next months. Learning means making mistakes. And you are going to make a lot! Don’t get demoralized. Everyone does it.

The best way to come over mistakes it is to admit it. Never try to hide your mistake.

  •  Know your organization chart. Try to remember names. Define their job role in just one line.
  • While working on projects, focus on the big picture and not just the one task that was given to you. For example, if you are a cost engineer, you will get inputs to work on and provide your deliverables. People who are providing the inputs, what is their work process? What are the inputs for their work?

And what is the purpose of your deliverables? How is it being utilized by your team or company?

  •  Whatever function you are in, understand the project finance. How is your team (or company) getting money? What is your role in it?
  • Meetings
  1. Prepare yourself before any meeting. Don’t go blank in meetings. Always take a notebook during any meeting. Be clear about what is your role in the meeting and what is expected from you.
  2. When the meeting is over, think about what was the purpose of the meeting and did the team achieve it?
  3. Initially when you participate in meetings or conferences, and you see people asking questions or discussing, try to find out what background work has enabled them to ask questions.

Remember, sometimes asking the right question will give you more visibility than answering one!

  1.  If your team member is answering questions or giving suggestions, try to find out how you can be in that position.
  • Be honest and committed to your roles and responsibilities. If someone needs to constantly remind you of your work, it’s not a good sign. Reflect on how you can improve.
  • How will you organize your work? How will you track what task is to be done, what is the deadline for each task, what is completed, what you need support from others? Use spreadsheets or OneNote to prepare a ‘to-do list’.
  • Learn about the key performance metrics of your role. Have a monthly meeting with your manager or lead to get their feedback. Use the feedback to assess which areas you are doing good and which areas you need improvement.

 When you complete a year

  • If there is a new hire in your group, say after a year, do not miss a chance to interact with them or onboard them. If you are not able to explain what you are doing to him/her, you need to improve. This is the best chance to look back.
  • Don’t just stick to one role. You may want to be a specialist in a particular role. It’s a great decision. But a specialist can add most values if he/she understand the challenges and needs of most of the functions directly or indirectly associated with them.

Some general thoughts:

  • Always find opportunities to encourage and appreciate your colleagues.
  • If someone in your team makes a mistake, never humiliate them. In fact, offer support.
  • Avoid getting influenced by toxic people around you, people who:
  1. Dodge their responsibilities
  2. Take credit for work done by others.
  3. Find fault in other’s work.
  • Take control of your personal finance from day one. Few tips:
  1. Invest early
  2. Start with a small amount
  3. Ensure adequate Insurance coverage
  4. Remember, everyone’s finance need is different. You should not just copy-paste what others are doing.

Lastly, don’t overburden yourself with the work or expectations from others. Take your time and remember, nothing beats:

Being honest, humble and empathetic throughout your career.


Learned One!

Link to previous post:

My first Letter to Myself!!

Share what you learned today!

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Praveen Tiwari

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15 years in EPC | From Concept Phase to Commissioning
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