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Career Coach: As graduates enter the workplace, here's what they need to know

By Joyce E.A. Russell
Monday, May 31, 2010; 16

Memorial Day signals the end of "commencement season" at colleges and universities throughout the region. No doubt graduates heard inspirational advice from speakers at their respective ceremonies, but do freshly minted graduates really take all that sage advice and carry it with them to that first job and throughout their careers?

To the Class of 2010, my tips to set yourself apart and show your value in the new job you were fortunate enough to land in this crazy economy:

Listen to his/her views and take notes. Set your own goals and share those with your manager, then modify your goals with your manager's input. Many people forget how important it is to clarify expectations, roles and responsibilities when they first start a job. Make sure you understand what metrics will be used to define your success.

If you want them to see you as a promotable employee, then you need to act like one. Keep quality in the forefront of your mind, especially with your interactions with all company stakeholders -- suppliers, vendors, distributors and customers. Develop your skills. Look at the full-time positions you want and see what skills and knowledge they require. Make sure to complete all projects you have been given -- be a closer.

Seek out extra work and new projects. Show your willingness to go beyond the job description. Look for ways to make your manager's or co-workers' jobs easier (then they will really want to keep you around!). Look for opportunities to attend trade shows, industry meetings, seminars and training programs. Keep learning and meeting people. Take on all jobs that come your way. Don't turn your nose up at menial jobs. Everyone has to pitch in. Be willing to do what is needed. Tackle easy, repetitive tasks with enthusiasm and show your ability to get them done quickly and efficiently. Do the extra work! Many employees leave the office at "closing time" (5 p.m.). If you stay 30 minutes later every day, a lot of projects come up and people will appreciate that you are the only one left to do the work.

Smile. Look like you enjoy being there. Why would they want to keep you around or promote you if you look miserable? If someone asks you to do something, don't be afraid to say, "I've never done that before, but I'm certainly willing to give it a try." They are looking for go-getters with initiative, a strong work ethic, dependability, and those who work well independently as well as in a team environment.

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