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Just Graduated? Seven Essential Steps to Kick Start Your Career

Just Graduated? Seven Essential Steps to Kick Start Your Career

You just graduated and the world is yours. As a newly minted graduate, you are filled with optimism, ready to make a difference and make your mark.

These aspirations require strong ambition, perseverance and an unrelenting optimism. You are not alone as you compete with your peers who are also striving to make the world a better place.

Lots of people work hard and do great work. How will you stand out from the masses, be noticed, excel and have a chance to move forward? There is an answer to this quest. The key is understanding how to differentiate yourself.

Here are the core skills that are imperative to your ongoing success.

1. Expand Outside Your Mandate 
As a new graduate you are keen to "get it right.” You must understand your role, responsibilities and ultimately the metrics that are used to evaluate your performance. It is critical, though, for you to reach beyond your prescribed job definition. In doing so you demonstrate your innovation and ability to contribute in in unique ways.

[Related: Be a Walking, Talking Alpha]

2. Find A Sponsor 
Mentors support your goals. Sponsors, on the other hand, truly advocate on behalf of not just your current skill set but more importantly your future currency. Sponsors in essence are willing to risk their reputation on your future contribution. They will promote you as an organization’s important asset.

3. Be Visible 
Volunteer and be part of a special project, task force, or committee. This way executives from across the greater organization have a chance to view you in action. These leaders will formulate important opinions regarding your skills and when an opportunity emerges in their organization you stand a chance to be tapped.

4. Have A Voice 
It sure is intimidating to be at the table with seasoned leaders. You probably question what you have to offer or feel pressured to only contribute when you have something extraordinary to say. You are being watched for having a point of view. Ask yourself as you sit in meetings and you chat with your boss: have I advanced the dialogue?

5. Accept Lateral Moves 
Understand that to getting ahead is not only about moving up. Often you must move laterally. Acquiring a diverse skill set and working on a key project helps to round out your knowledge and gives you important profile.

6. Actively Network 
Your broader relationships are your currency. Of course building a strong rapport with your manager is imperative, but it is also equally important to have connections outside your own team. Your boss’s peers have a say in your future, and will help position you for new and greater opportunities.

[Related: 5 Strategies for More Effective Networking]

7. Alignment of the Right Values 
Understand and reflect your organization’s values. Ask your peers and senior leaders if they see you as a spokesperson for these values. Regardless of your skill set or how bright you are this will be a showstopper if your leadership brand is not aligned with the corporate value set.


Cindy Wahler, Ph.D., C.Psych. is a leadership consultant specializing in executive coaching and talent management. She can be contacted at Josh Wahler is a digital marketing/social media guru. He is also an avid blogger and you can follow him at He can be contacted at

Have more questions? Follow up with the expert herself.


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