Are you just starting your first job or an internship? You will soon find out that besides the skills that you need for the actual job, there are some other things (or tools) that you need to master in order to carry your work days and tasks successfully.
These are tools that apply for every job, and once learned will serve you forever. They are very basic and common sense kind of things, but often are overlooked when starting out. You will only need to invest a few minutes into learning the ins and outs of different apps or software that are part of every work day, and will capitalize on that forever.
- Email app (Outlook/Gmail) – Let’s start with the basics. Managing your inbox and your calendar is a must. The quicker you learn how to do that, the better – I have also written about this in my business tips, which you can read here. So, whether you are using Outlook or Gmail, make sure you take a few minutes to explore the apps and even watch a YouTube tutorial with tips and tricks to make sure you are not slow and sloppy when following up, staying up to date with the latest meetings or setting up invites.
- Calendar – Know the meetings you are supposed to attend before they start. A good idea is to form a habit of checking your calendar ahead on a weekly as well as daily basis. So for example, on Sunday night you can check the next week calendar to prepare for the week ahead. Also, at the end of every day you should check what meetings you have the next day so that you know whether there is a meeting that you need to come in early for. The last thing you will want to happen is to miss meetings because you did not know how to check your calendar in the first place or set notifications ahead of meetings.
- Excel, Word and PowerPoint – Depending on the exact job, you will rely more on one of the three. Consultants breathe PowerPoint, lawyers Word and accountants Excel. No matter which one is yours, you need to master it. Nonetheless, even if you focus on just one, you need to know the basics (read medium to advanced) of the other two. For my first job for example, I was spending my morning commute reading Excel shortcuts, tips and tricks, because part of my job consisted in tracing and matching loads of data. Also, if you are stuck, with any of the three, Google is your friend; and also YouTube. Don’t ask silly questions to your manager or your team, when you can google it.
- Skype for Business / Join Me / Blue Jeans / … – it doesn’t matter which app you use for web conferences, make sure you master how to use them, especially if you are the one organising meetings. Take a few minutes and Google how to set up a meeting, how to use conference links, dial in numbers for different countries and the likes. Make a habit so that whenever you are the meeting organiser you dedicate 5-10 minutes before the start to set up your sound, internet connection and screen.
- Task manager – No matter if you are at the start or not, you will always need a tool to manage your daily tasks. It can be an “old-fashioned” notebook, a Note app on your phone or a Trello board. Make sure you pick one tool and use it to keep track of all tasks and deadlines, take notes, and whenever you haven’t finished a task, carry it into the next day.
These are the basic tools that I would recommend anyone to get familiar with when starting at a first job or internship. Even though you will most likely have some time to learn the basics, be smart about how you do that, without wasting your manager’s time when you can just Google it. The more prepared you are with the basics, the more time you will have to dedicate to the serious stuff and the thinking.
I hope this post is helpful and if you have other tools to add, let me know in the comments below and I will make sure to add them to the list!