Whether fresh to the scene or an office veteran, there are a few workplace best practices that can make all the difference in one’s career. As recruitment season ends, recent grads finish their senior trips and interns prepare to prove their credibility, I thought I’d share how the lessons I learned with SWSG have benefited my first year as a professional in NYC.
Empowerment is key
Feeling empowered makes me better at my job. It motivated me to introduce myself to new faces and join my team’s daily lunches. It helped me establish my role and potential contributions. First jobs and internships are especially tricky because everyone comes in with different backgrounds.  People only know what you let them see, so being confident in yourself and proactive with your ideas is crucial.
You can be a leader at any role
SWSG taught me that any person has the potential to have an impact. This potential doesn’t go away. So, if in your internship or first year, you find yourself with downtime, don’t waste the day away. Instead, present a side project to your boss or manager that relates to your field and would benefit your company. Then, on the slow days, you’ll be able to progress towards a concrete and valuable goal.
Seek other strong people
This applies both inside and outside of work. Inside of work, it means modeling those around you. When you see an individual who’s great at their job, study them and mimic their approach. This can help you solidify healthy and productive daily habits.
Beyond the office, it’s also important to continue to broaden your exposure to other thought leaders in related fields. Sites like Meet-up, Eventbrite, SkillShare, etc. give you unlimited access to great opportunities, such as panel discussions, conferences and lectures. Extracurriculars always matter. Remember to take advantage!
Become a strong woman yourself
The final lesson I learned from SWSG is that being a strong woman is a fluid concept—it’s not a moment or single achievement, it’s the willingness to constantly reflect on and adjust as needed what you’re experiencing, learning and becoming. Your first job is just that: a first job. It’s not your career. Always keep in mind your long-term goals as you start making those bigger, more challenging choices.
This is just the start of what my first year has taught me. Any other professional best practices to share?  How else has SWSG prepared you?

Jessica Sochol was a mentor and executive board member with SWSG in 2009-2012 at Carnegie Mellon University. She currently lives in Manhattan, works at a branding firm and loves yoga, photography and exploring NYC.