Thriving as an Engaged Professional
You’ve invested time, effort and energy into discovering, preparing and securing your chosen opportunity. Now is the time to thrive in the experience. Thriving encompasses applying the skills gained through your career development process to establish a strong base and grow into your profession. By thriving, you will take steps toward being a life-long learner while managing your personal and professional success.
Recommendations for Thriving as an Engaged Professional
Learn more about “thriving” with recommendations targeted at helping you continue your personal creation of your future success.
- Plan ahead for your first day in your new role by clarifying important newcomer information
before your first day on the job or in your academic program.
Prior to beginning your new role, visit with your supervisor, the human resources manager, or your program coordinator and ask about:
- Paperwork to be completed in advance of your first day
- Your expected arrival time and typical schedule
- Where to park and where to report
- Type of validation needed on your first day, such as an employee or student ID or other documentation
- Appropriate attire
- Materials, supplies or equipment needed for day one productivity
- Ease yourself into a new personal routine.
Layout your new daily and weekly schedules, including commuting time to and from work or school, time for your morning routine, hours on the job or in class, and allotments for other commitments like exercise, community activities, grocery shopping, connecting with friends, etc. The National Sleep Foundation, the Center for Disease Control, and the National Institutes of Health recommend seven to nine hours of sleep per night in support of optimal health and chronic disease prevention. Once your schedule is laid out, determine how you will fit these hours of rest into your new schedule and put the new plan into practice at least 10 days before your first day in order to acclimate yourself to it.
- Gather supplies for your new work or study space to support your productivity and
integrate some of your personality into your new experience.
When considering personal supplies, think first about organization and workflow management.
- Do you need a separate file folder for every project?
- Would color coding make files more easily identifiable?
- If you record meeting or class notes by hand, do you need separate notebooks for different meetings or classes, color coded flags to delineate subjects, or colored pens to differentiate action items?
- If you prefer using technology, what is the best app to help you with file organization, note taking, task or time management and other productivity needs?
Beyond personal supplies for productivity, gather up some other needs like a good water bottle and/or coffee mug, a candy jar and a small number of professionally appropriate inspirational or personal pictures. Each of these items can be an illustration of your personality or style and a generator of conversation with coworkers or classmates. Taking the time to refill your mug or bottle or to grab a piece of candy can also provide a brief mental break in the midst of a long day.
- Begin before you begin by thinking ahead and reviewing your coursework.
Read through the details of your new job description or peruse the course descriptions for classes listed as a part of your new academic program. Make a list of past courses completed where you believe you gained knowledge or skills important for your success in your new role. Pull out your old notes, textbooks and reports. Review them, make notes about their relevance and write down questions that arise.
- Prepare yourself to continue learning. Ask questions and keep detailed notes.
As you contemplate the experience you are about to undertake and as you assume your new role, identify your shortcomings. Have a conversation with your supervisor or program head about their perspective of your deficiencies and their expectations for professional growth. Develop a learning plan with specific benchmarks identified to measure your progress. Think of thoughtful questions to ask along the way, and keep detailed notes of the answers so you can draw upon them later to take action or make decisions on your own. Regularly communicate or schedule periodic check-ins to develop a strong relationship with your supervisor or program head, and work together to evaluate your progress and establish new learning goals.
- Find a mentor or mentors in your new role.
As you begin your new role, investigate if a formal mentoring program exists in your new organization and sign up if it does. Also look for mentors beyond formal programs. Seek out those familiar with your new role and able to give you the “inside scoop” on your new environment, provide you with guidance, serve as a role model of integrity and encourage your growth as a professional. A supervisor, more experienced co-worker or classmate, or even the person who previously held your position may be a good choice for a mentor.
- Identify and build relationships in your new work or academic environment.
Make an effort to develop relationships with others at your level, as well as those above and below you within your new organizational structure. Invest time to have conversations. Get to know others in your new environment, and allow them to learn more about you. While demonstrating a personal interest in others is key to relationship-building, keep conversations appropriate for the professional environment, and avoid compromising productivity by draining significant chunks of the workday with never-ending chatter. Remember, nothing is “off the record,” and words travel at lightning speed. Refrain from career limiting conversations, such as gossip, snitching, complaining, and/or debating controversial topics or opinions.
- Embrace challenge and opportunity by saying “yes” more than saying “no.”
Be purposeful about placing yourself in situations where trials may be encountered and different opportunities may arise. Be flexible and adaptable, willing to adjust your plans to take advantage of an unforeseen opportunity or to attempt a different approach to a challenge. Be optimistic about experiences, even if the outcome isn’t what you intended. Reflect upon your undertakings and transform all outcomes into valuable learning experiences.
- Maintain a realistic perspective about your role.
Be patient. While the promise of your new experience may have been a perfect match with your goals while you were working to secure the opportunity, there may be some less-than-thrilling steps and necessary lessons before you can get to that promise. You may also discover some unpleasant or tedious supporting tasks associated your dream. Evaluate your situation, consider the factors you have the ability to influence or change, and take action on those elements. Avoid dwelling on the factors not under your control. Celebrate the small victories that help you move closer to your goal of what you imagined your role to be.
- Evaluate the impact your new role has on your financial standing and develop a revised
Using your net income figure and knowledge of expenses, develop a monthly working budget. Include a regular financial commitment to both emergency savings and retirement savings in your working budget. Pay down any debt and manage your credit responsibly. Leverage the abundance of online financial resources and smartphone applications to help with your planning and organization. Consider visiting with a financial planner and/or investigate if your employer or institution has financial education or planning services available.
- Get engaged in your new community beyond your workplace or institution.
Seek out community organizations or teams to join and/or programs in need of volunteers, such as an adult softball league, community band, youth mentoring or coaching program, civic club, or other activity. Register to vote in your new community to be an active participant in local, state and national decisions. Attend and participate in community activities and events such as town hall meetings, holiday celebrations, fairs and other activities. Maintain your “orange connection” by joining the OSU Alumni Association and finding an alumni chapter in your new location.
- Take the necessary steps to maintain your physical, mental and emotional health.
Obtain copies of your medical, dental and/or vision records from your previous providers. Ask your mentors for suggestions of providers in your new area, and review your insurance coverage to determine providers affiliated with your plans. Schedule time to meet with and decide upon your new medical, dental and/or vision care providers.
Incorporate physical activity into your regular schedule. For adults, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend 2.5 hours of moderate intensity aerobic activity per week in addition to muscle-strengthening activities on two different days of each week. This activity time may be divided into time chunks as small as 10 minutes to prevent you from being overwhelmed.
Work with your supervisor or program director to plan time away from your work or school. Using your vacation days or taking advantage of academic breaks for a timeout from your new role may provide a valuable mental rest, contribute to a sense of renewed energy, and refresh your commitment to productivity.