When I first joined George Jon – the eDiscovery platform, process, product, and security specialists – as a Business Operations Intern, I learned that my role would entail much more responsibility than I initially imagined, an exciting and welcome opportunity. My college education had prepared me for the workload, and I was excited to learn new technologies while putting in productive hours. Yes, there is a learning curve in every profession, but we all have transferable skills and unique traits that can help pave the road to success in a new job – even for rocket scientists! Below are four pieces of advice for entry-level workers that I wish I had known when I started out.
1. Become Familiar with your Company’s Operating System(s)
Most organizations leverage the Microsoft Business Suite, which provides mission-critical applications, integration plugins, and everyday tools. At a minimum, you should become proficient in Outlook, Teams, and SharePoint. There will be days where you live in your Outlook inbox, so it pays to know how to navigate, search, and catalog content accurately. Ask your employer about the company’s OS so you have time to research the system and refine your skills to hit the ground running on day one.
To get you started: SharePoint Technical Documentation
2. Acquire the Basic Skills to Maneuver an Excel Spreadsheet
A common misconception is that Excel is strictly used for crunching numbers. While it certainly excels (see what I did there!) at financial matters, Excel also offers many features that drive success on a daily basis, including task tracking and scheduling. It is essential that you know the basic mathematical functions, formatting tools, and design features to create useful sheets that deliver concise, attractive, and usable information. Excel offers many tools to help you learn about the system, so dive in and explore — the best way to learn is to create a blank worksheet and start making/breaking things to grow your knowledge.
A useful resource for learning or refreshing skills: Basic Excel Skills
3. Develop Business Writing Skills
No one expects you to be Shakespeare. But writing in complete sentences, quickly/clearly making your point, and using proper punctuation goes a long way toward establishing your professional cred. Always consider your audience. If you are writing a case study for the CEO, brevity is critical – execs don’t have the time to pore over poorly written, long-winded content. Use industry vocabulary that is relevant to your field as needed, but always avoid unnecessary buzzwords and insider jargon that can muddy the message and confuse the general reader.
A guide to business writing: Tips for Concise Writing
4. Be Humble
Always respect the professional opportunities and valuable coworkers who will frame your daily activities. Small signs of appreciation can pay lasting dividends, especially when asking for a favor from a colleague. Ignore the organizational chart and simply treat everyone with respect and kindness. Every task you take on will play a role in your future, even if you don’t realize it in the moment. Be ambitious, daring, and willing to take on more responsibility. Take constructive criticism to heart and use it to improve your professional skills. Everyone makes mistakes; just don’t make the same mistake twice.
A reminder about humility: Habits of Humble People
About the Author
Patrick Ladd is a full-time undergraduate student majoring in Finance at the Driehaus College of Business at DePaul University and is expected to graduate Cum Laude in June of 2021. He is also a full-time business operations intern at George Jon, an eDiscovery Technology and consulting firm based in Chicago, IL.
Pat is also an active member of his collegiate and local communities serving as President of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon’s DePaul Chapter and helps fundraise for CAMP – A FASD Community.