Taking on your first job after high school or college can feel daunting, but if you exhibit professionalism and energy, your first boss will love you and give you a glowing recommendation when the time comes to move into a new office. Here are 8 ways to impress your first boss. 

Arrive early, stay late 

This can be annoying but it really does work. With my first job after college, I was expected to be there from 9-5. I typically arrived around 8:45 and left 15-20 minutes after my boss left. I wasn’t really being more productive than anyone else in the office, but rather, setting myself up for the day. Instead of arriving at 9 and turning the coffee pot on, logging into my computer and going through my notes from yesterday, I did those things before anyone else arrived at the office. This meant that at 9am I could clock in and get started with my job, and it meant the coffee pot was already full of fresh coffee when my boss and coworkers arrived. At 5pm when all my coworkers were itching to leave, I was taking out the trash, organizing my desk, and making a to-do list for the next day. My boss took notice and complimented me frequently for working hard and being punctual. 

Check in with them frequently 

Even if you aren’t asked to, it doesn’t hurt to pop your head into their office every so often to see if there’s anything you can help them with. If you finish with all the work you’ve been assigned for the day early, check in with your boss and see what else you can get started on. 

Dress to impress 

The way you dress for your first job will set the stage for not only your boss’s opinion of you, but also your co-workers opinions. Find out if your office has a dress code beforehand and if they do, do it well. My first office out of college didn’t have a dress code, so the first week of work I stuck to pencil skirts and blouses. Also remember to dress appropriately for the job you have. It’s nice to dress up, but if your job requires a lot of walking, heels might not be the best option. I was working as a journalist, so many days were spent outside of the office, covering stories where I was doing interviews in bars, at construction sites, at crime scenes and on top of roofs. When I knew I was going to be helping with a story about birthing piglets, or covering a bloody crime scene, I didn’t want to be dressed to the nines, so on these days I would wear jeans and a nice top, and throw work boots or sneakers in the backseat of my car so I could be dressed appropriately. 

Contribute to the work culture 

A more fun way that you can impress your boss and co-worker is contributing to the enthusiasm and culture in your workplace. If it’s the secretary’s birthday, offer to pick up a cake or card for her. If someone is retiring, bring in flowers for them. Going the extra mile to get to know your co-workers and make them feel loved is such an easy and fun way to get plugged into the workplace culture. 

Keep up with the industry

If you work in politics, know as much as you can about other politicians and what they’re doing in their states or municipalities. If you’re in journalism, try to be the first to get the news about what’s going on in your town. And if you’re in law, keep up with any Supreme Court decisions or other law changes. Knowing as much as you can about your industry, and being one step ahead of your co-workers (or even your boss) is very impressive. 

Meet or beat your deadlines 

Never, ever miss a deadline. If something comes up and there’s no way you’ll be able to complete your work, let your boss know immediately and then work to get as much of it done as possible by your deadline, so you have something to show for it. After a few days at your job, you’ll likely figure out how to be the most efficient and effective at your job so that you’ll never have to say you missed a deadline. 

Stay organized 

Nothing looks more unprofessional to me than when I walk into a co-workers office, cubicle or work space and there are papers and files all over the desk, old lunch plates and bags of McDonald’s scattered around and no sort of filing system to speak of. I actually recently helped a co-worker organize his desk and we found papers from 1997 in his drawers. Keep things organized and well filed and you’ll look so much more put together. Of course, don’t throw something away until you’re sure you won’t need to reference it again, but those meeting minutes you took in 2013 can probably be tossed out.

Be willing to offer suggestions

Get involved during meetings by being willing to make suggestions for how your office can continue to improve. I work at a newspaper and all my co-workers are over the age of 50, meaning it’s been a long time since they’ve been in college. I always try to teach them new technology and show them resources that I learned about during my time in college, because I know it will help make things go more smoothly at the office. That said, if your boss isn’t open to the ideas, you also have to learn to take no for an answer. They may be stuck in their ways, or they may just really know better than you do about how to make things run well, but either way, trying to force an idea onto your boss won’t make a good impression. 

Georgia G

Georgia Gallagher graduated from the University of Alabama in the summer of 2019 where she majored in Journalism and Political Science. She is currently working as a Cast Member at  Walt Disney World in Florida. In her free time she can be found advocating for pro-life policies and working with single or low-income mothers. She often says that her planner is second only to her Bible and she’s never caught without a cup of coffee in her hand.