Consider your entry-level position as your foot in the door, a stepping stone, on your way to greater things.  You now have the opportunity to gain the knowledge you need and practice the skills necessary for advancement.  If you are struggling to remain positive about your entry-level position, remind yourself that most Fortune 500 CEOs started their careers as entry-level employees.  Following are some helpful tips on how to make the most of an entry-level position.

1. Build Skills and Knowledge

Your entry-level responsibilities may not seem important but take the time to understand and appreciate the value it has to the overall process.  First and foremost, make a commitment to do your job well and make a contribution to the business.  Acquire as much knowledge as you can and seek additional training and professional-development opportunities such as on-demand training, classes, or webinars.  Many employers offer incentive programs for their employees and will pay some, or all, of the costs for work-related courses.  Focus on your job performance and stay busy.  If you do find yourself with extra time, ask your manager for extra responsibilities and perhaps offer to help out in other departments or offices to broaden your experience.  Do the research and learn about not only your company but your industry as a whole.

2. Develop a Network

Studies indicate that job success is determined equally by job skill expertise and the ability to fit into the existing organizational culture.  An entry-level position is ideal for becoming familiar with the work environment, and learning about team dynamics and influence.

Take notes of:

  • Staff interaction and how things get accomplished
  • Who is really in control of making decisions?
  • Who is obviously respected by the other staff, and why?
  • Is teamwork highly valued or do staff members work independently?
  • What are the rules, both written and unwritten?
  • What behaviours seem to be highly valued at the company?
  • What are successful staff members doing?

As an entry-level employee, begin to build your network by developing professional relationships inside of the organization with people at all levels.  Attend company events, social hours, and conferences.  Warmly acknowledge others by introducing yourself and starting up conversations.  Job success can often be as simple as who you know, so build interpersonal relationships.

3.  Seek Feedback

As an entry-level employee, set some career goals and milestones that are realistic for moving up in the organization.  Many employers perform evaluations of employee performance after three months and again, after six months, then once per year.  If your employer does not, request a performance review.  Once your performance has been evaluated, you are able to make any necessary adjustments to address problem areas and improve job performance.  It can be helpful to keep a log of accomplishments and compliments, and keep a file of good work evaluations for future job prospects.

4. Internal Promotions

Let others know of your interest in advancing in the company.  Review the internal job postings to gain insight into the range of work opportunities and positions of interest.  Many promotions happen from within an organization and your chances are vastly improved if you constantly perform well and keep well-informed of job openings.  When you find relevant job openings that match your qualifications and experience, then inquire about applying.  If promoted, plan on staying in the new position for at least a year or two to become proficient with your new job responsibilities.

Remember to make the most of your entry-level job by taking advantage of the opportunities to gain knowledge, learn skills, and develop important connections.  Finally, don’t be passive.  Take the initiative and prove to your employer that you are ready to move up to a higher level.