Skip to main contentA logo with &quat;the muse&quat; in dark blue text.
Advice / Succeeding at Work / Changing Jobs

Ask a Career Coach: How Do I Make My Mark When I'm New at Work?

Hi Kyle,

I'm new at work (a first-year candidate attorney), just two weeks in. I want to impress my bosses and the senior people, but things are slow, and work hasn’t been allocated to me yet. I keep begging for things to take on and knocking on different office doors, but I've been told there's nothing, and things are just quiet this month.

I'm getting a little restless as I know it's always good to show your managers that they made the right decision in hiring you. How do I make a great impression when things are so slow at the office and I literally don’t have anything to work on?

Longing to Make an Impression

Hi Longing to Make an Impression,

Thanks for writing! There’s so much you can do to stand out as a new hire, plus some great ways to be productive in this spare time. If I had to narrow it down to three tips, here’s what I’d suggest doing to both impress your boss and get ahead.

1. Meet People You Wouldn’t Normally Meet

Getting to know co-workers outside of your core team will help you understand your organization and its culture more clearly. Ask someone out for coffee or literally go around the office introducing yourself to colleagues you haven’t officially met. Be respectful of others’ time, but be friendly and make a point to learn names.

As you get to know people, you’ll not only gain knowledge and insight about the firm, but you’ll also make progress in building your personal network. I’m a huge proponent of networking—and a big believer that internal networking is just as important as any out-of-office events.

2. Become an Expert on Company Processes

It can be tough to get up to speed when you’re the new person, so you should be looking at this slow period as bonus time. The absence of real work means you have time to learn systems, get your inbox in order, and prepare for what’s surely to come.

Now’s the perfect opportunity to soak up company processes and protocol. As a first-year attorney, see if there’s research and reading you can do to better position yourself for when the first assignment lands on your desk.

3. Find a Useful Project and Try to Lead its Execution

One of the most direct ways that you can demonstrate ambition is by using what you’ve learned from the above tips to start an initiative that will improve an area that could use streamlining.

In some roles, this will mean writing a proposal and seeking approval; in others, it might mean building a new report on your own. Can you, in your position, take a deep dive into past work the firm’s focused on? Keep in mind that any project or initiative you choose should be one that you can set aside and return to at a later point for when the day arrives—and it will!—when you’re suddenly up to your ears in work.

This is an opportune period to focus on things that you’re normally too busy for, but remember that these tips are just a start. It can feel awkward in a new role when you're learning the ropes and trying to make your mark, but know that this is, indeed, a common conundrum. Do your best not to overthink it: You were hired for a reason, and sooner or later you’ll get your opportunity to show everyone what an asset you are to the team.

This article is part of our monthly Ask a Career Coach series—a column dedicated to helping you tackle your biggest career concerns. Our coaches are excited to answer all of your burning questions, and you can submit one by emailing us at askacareercoach(at)themuse(dot)com.

Your letter to Ask a Career Coach may be published in an article on The Muse. All letters to Ask a Career Coach become the property of Daily Muse, Inc and will be edited for length, clarity, and grammatical correctness.

Photo of person working hard courtesy of Hero Images/Getty Images.