How to be Successful in Your Position

Whether you’re working at an on-campus job, in the midst of your internship, or starting your first professional job after graduation from UMD, we want you to be successful and confident in the work you’re doing. To that end, we’ve assembled a number of tips and ideas to help you be successful in whatever experience you’re engaged in or are preparing for at the moment.

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Set Yourself up for Success

  • Track what you do and accomplish during the experience - this can help when meeting with your supervisor, evaluating what you like/dislike about the role, updating your resume, and figuring out what’s next for you.
  • Be punctual. If you start at 8am, be at your desk/station ready to work at that time versus walking in the door.
  • Do you have a longer commute to your position? Maximize your time by catching up on the news, listening to podcasts, and/or keeping up with the trends in your field. The commute can also serve as time to prepare yourself for the day and to decompress after your work is done.
  • Managing your time in a more professional role is different than when you’re a student. Find what works best for you.
  • Figure out a system to help keep you organized while in training and once you’re working on projects/tasks.
  • Personalize your workspace as you’re able.
  • Take your breaks - this can help you to be more productive in your work.
  • Check in with yourself periodically throughout the experience and reflect on how it has been going. Tweak as needed.
  • Details matter. Proofread everything, because you don’t want to be remembered as the person with the typo problem.
  • Be flexible, proactive, and ready to learn.
  • Learn from your mistakes.

Working with Your Supervisor & Colleagues

  • Set attainable goals with your supervisor about what will be accomplished throughout and by the end of the experience.
  • Ask for constructive criticism/feedback. It’ll help you be better at your position and develop your professionalism.
  • Check in with your supervisor on a regular basis. Ask questions. Get feedback.
  • If you don’t know (and you’ve tried multiple ways to solve the issue yourself), ask. Asking questions is a good thing.
  • Find ways to go above and beyond what is expected of you. If you finish a task ahead of schedule, ask where else you can assist.
  • Be thinking about who at your organization you want to ask to be references for you. Ask before your last day.
  • Be professional and maintain a positive attitude.

Company Culture

  • Learn your organization’s company culture (mission, values, organizational structure, clients/customers, dress code, philanthropy, etc.).
  • If there are people in a similar role as you, connect with them. You’re all going through the experience together and can offer support.
  • Interested in having your internship/co-op/student teaching/field placement transition to full-time? Explore how you could make that transition and organization benefits such as retirement, insurance, and continuing education.
  • Environment can be a huge factor in being successful at a position. Take notes about your role and what works (or doesn’t) for you: nature of the work, people, and work setting, to help with your next search. 
  • Research how your organization invests in its people. Training, help with furthering education, personal growth, benefits, and more.
  • Meet with people from throughout the organization. Learn about what they do and advice they may have for you. This can help you to understand a fuller picture of your organization.

After the Experience

  • Reflect upon the experience. What did you learn? What skills have you gained? What didn’t go well? How do you want to build upon this experience?
  • What did you learn about your industry during your experience? How will you bring that back to your classes?
  • Update your resume.
  • Practice talking about what you learned, accomplished, or gained during your experience for future interviews.
  • Didn’t like your position? Figure out if it’s the work, the people, the supervision structure, and/or the organization. Find both positive and negative things to take away from the experience to help you navigate future roles. 
  • If possible, have multiple experiences. This can help you to figure out what you like and need from the work environment (tasks, company culture, supervisor relationship, etc.).