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The first three months in a new job can be both exciting and nerve-wracking. Whether you’re entering the workforce as an assistant or as a senior leader, you’ll want to make a strong first impression.  It’s a time to start fresh, with new opportunities and challenges.

Whatever the job, here are a few guiding principles for you, based on my many years as a leader in government. I especially encourage new Federal employees to take these tips to heart as you learn to navigate the public-sector landscape.

  • Listen, Listen, Listen: On that first day of a new job, you’re going to be the newest person in the room. It’s crucial that you listen – not only for the information you’ll need to do your job, but so that you can learn about the office dynamics and culture. You have to respect the environment that you enter. And listening is key.
  • Respect Your New Coworkers: Sometimes people start a new job believing they know more than the current employees. But especially in the Federal workforce, many of your new colleagues will have been there for a long time. They have dedicated themselves to service and often they are experts in their fields. So be respectful and be willing to learn from your coworkers. They probably have a lot to share. Giving them that respect will help make everyone more successful.
  • Spend A Lot of Time Learning: It’s inevitable that during your first weeks on the job, you will have to absorb a lot of information. It can be overwhelming. Give yourself time to digest everything. It’s important to know what you don’t know. So ask questions and do your homework. The quality of your work is more important than the quantity.
  • Identify a Mentor Early On: Quickly identify someone in your office who can be a mentor to you as you adjust to your new responsibilities and environment. A mentor can help you understand the new culture and the corporate practices. He or she can help you translate terms and policies unique to your new office. And, most importantly, the assistance you will get from a mentor will help you become a good team member.

Your first 90 days on a job is the time to show what you’re made of and to prepare your path for the future. So listen, learn, and follow the advice of a mentor. Whether your new job is making copies or analyzing policy, success is about how you handle the work you are given and the commitment you show to the job and the mission. If you take that to heart you will go far.

Federal employees meet in a conference room with a laptop computer.

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