4 Ways To Make The Most Of Your First Real Job

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When you walk through the doors of your new office for the first time, you’ll want to bring with you a strong work ethic and a willingness to learn, says JetBlue chairman Joel Peterson in a recent LinkedIn post. You'll also want to make the most of your experience.

He offers tips for making your first real job count. Here are a few of our favorites:

1. Be a "heat-seeking missile" for problems. "If you can become obsessive about identifying and preemptively solving problems, you'll soon find yourself being picked for key assignments," Peterson explains. "Your trouble-shooting can run the gamut from meticulously proofreading a boss's PowerPoint slides, to keeping an eye on competitors' moves, to dealing with unhappy customers." The ability to foresee and resolve problems is rare and valuable — and will always lead you to new opportunities.

2. Constantly seek out feedback. You will likely be missing some key skills when you first enter the workforce, but they can be learned and then improved with practice, he says. "But your rate of learning will depend on feedback — so, ask for it. The more specific, the better." If you find people willing to teach you, be open to hearing their advice.

3. Remember that you were hired to make others look good. In the early stages of your career, you’ll want to do everything you can to help your boss shine. "She didn't hire you to steal her thunder. So, figure out ways to help her succeed — and work to make up for her limitations," Peterson says. Be sure to give credit to other team members, too. "If you hog the limelight, you'll alienate the people who were there before you. This may be a slower route to influence than one your hotshot peers are taking, but sharing power and building trust will pay off far more in the long run."

4. Remember that failure isn't final. "The only failures from which you may not recover are ones of character and effort," he says. So don't be afraid to try new things, to take chances. If you’re unable to achieve an anticipated result or goal, remember that failure is a key to success. "And if you're lucky enough that something works out, have the grace to remember the many people that helped you get there." Then, he says, give credit and encouragement to the people around you who may need it the most.

By developing these habits and attitudes, doors will open, Peterson says. "When your work flows naturally from your values and your habits, a more satisfying life and career will follow."

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