March 13, 2014

Tips to Leave a Lasting Impression

By: Sam Pfister

Early in your career you have a lot going for you. You’re full of ideas and energy, you’re dedicated and you want to make an impact immediately. Unfortunately, early in your career, you’ve got a lot going against you. Despite what you may think, you aren’t an expert in your area yet and you haven’t had the time to establish relationships with important people in the office that will help advance your career. 

To help you establish those relationships, become an expert in your field, and leave a lasting impression, I developed the following list of things I’ve done, and continue to do, to try to leave a lasting impression:

Practice your Values

  • Do the little things amazingly well. Make coffee and copies like it is your freaking job (it probably is). You’ll be beyond that stage soon.
  • Be honest with yourself and your boss. Admit when you’ve messed up, get your to-do list done, and set achievable goals.
  • Be humble. Don’t go blabbing that you spent two hours last night at home updating a spreadsheet. No one wants to hear that. Just get that sheet done and let your work speak for itself.

Be Organized

  • Try keeping a single bound notebook to help you keep track of notes and manage your to-do list.
  • For your to-do list, write down explicit and implicit tasks—some tasks are easy to pick up on, “Marsha, update this excel spreadsheet.” Others are not. For instance, you’re in a meeting and your boss says, “Jeez, this spreadsheet is outdated.” Volunteer yourself.
  • Be on time and turn in assignments early when possible. Time is money and money is precious to liberty non-profits around town.

Be Ambitious, but also Pragmatic

  • Don’t step on any toes. Instead of infringing on others’ responsibilities, ask folks whose job you’d like to have eventually if they need help.
  • Be innovative.  Take on new challenges and add value in all your tasks. Just admit when you need help, when you’re in over your head, or if you’ve messed up.
  • Find a mentor. Don’t be afraid to seek out individuals that you look up to for guidance.

With these simple steps, you and your work should leave a lasting impression on your organization and those with whom you work. Good luck! Now get to work!

Sam Pfister is an associate director for outreach for the Mercatus Center.