Sweaty palms, gelled-back hair and a brand new suit. You think you are ready for your first day at work, but are you? As I look back to my first day at PwC as a New Associate, besides being nervous and excited, I can tell you that it was definitely one of the greatest feelings of my life. I knew I had made the right decision by choosing PwC as the firm where I would launch my career given the transition from university to a professional environment was seamless. Everybody at the firm was smiling, welcoming and equally as excited as I was. Having completed my first year at the firm, I want to take this opportunity to share with you what I believe are the five most essential things you should keep in mind before you head out for your first day at work, which hopefully will be at PwC!
1. Smile, because it is highly contagious
I cannot begin to describe how important it is to smile in and out of the workplace. As cheesy as this may sound, this is probably the one thing that can differentiate one New Associate from another. When you smile, you change the mood of the people around you! You lessen the stress of the situation at hand! You make other people smile!
This is why I love working at PwC. Regardless of what client I have been on and/or what team I have worked with over the past year, I enjoyed my time thoroughly because everyone around me was always smiling. Regardless of how tough a meeting might be with a client or how challenging an audit file might seem to appear, all it took was a light joke to change the mood instantaneously.
If you perfect the art of smiling and influencing others to smile, you are on the road to a very successful career. No one wants to work with grumpy people. Everyone wants to work with people that remain positive and inject humor into the workplace when appropriate. From my experience, this is what differentiates PwC from any other accounting firm. Not only are we professionals, but we know how to make auditing and working with our clients and colleagues truly enjoyable!
So when you walk in to the office for your first day at work, remember to smile because first impressions are everlasting!
2. Remain confident through your mistakes
The night before I began working at PwC, there was only one thing in my mind: "what if my Senior assigns me work that I would not know how to complete?" To be honest, most New Associates feel this way. It is inevitable for a New Associate to know everything about the audit process in his/her first year, let alone the first day. This is where confidence kicks in.
I was able to achieve a relative amount of success in my first year because of how I tuned my mindset. I ensured that I always remained confident regardless of the work I was assigned. You know why? Because you are allowed to make mistakes at PwC. I am not talking about significant mistakes where the firm will lose the business of the client because you set the client's premises on fire (which is highly discouraged), but rather mistakes that are expected of a New Associate ("rookie mistakes").
Confidence is key at the workplace. Seniors, Managers and Partners keep an eye out for those New Associates that are confident when dealing with clients and other colleagues. This is how you stand out amongst your peers. It is similar to networking. For those of you who have heard about my "80/20 rule," you know where I am going with this. I sincerely believe that for most cases, you will be remembered for 20% of what you say and 80% for how you say it.
So when you talk to the Partner on the job or the CFO of the client for the first time, say what you have to say with utmost confidence as this will help you stand out amongst your peers!
3. Work harder than everyone else around you
The one thing that took me by surprise when I began working at the firm was how hard-working and smart everyone at PwC is. Keep in mind that if you are hired by PwC, you are portrayed to be the "cream of the crop" of your class. You are trained to be future business leaders. Although this might seem pretty exciting at first, this means that you will have to work harder than everyone else around you because everyone is expected to be equally as smart as you. I like to call this "positive competition."
What I love most about PwC is that hard work is always rewarded and recognized. If you remember from my last blog post, I was recognized with the "Spotlight" award by upper management for my hard work and contributions on one of my biggest and complex client engagements. Although it is rare for a New Associate to receive this reward, it is not impossible by any means. All it took was hard work, commitment and dedication.
So when you are on your first audit engagement, work harder than everyone else around you. Show your Senior, Manager and Partner that you mean business and you will do whatever it takes to get the job done with quality. I guarantee you that you will exceed all expectations if you approach your work with this mindset and that you will be rewarded for your efforts.
4. Remain humble and honest
When you walk into the PwC office for the first time, leave your ego at the door. At the workplace, you are not competing to be the most sought after bachelor or bachelorette. You should always remain humble and honest with your colleagues and especially your clients. No one enjoys working with someone whose ego is through the roof and certainly with someone who is not honest (the foundation of the CA profession is embedded with integrity and honesty).
Remember that you carry your own brand. Once you tarnish your brand via dishonest behavior or by being egotistical and forcing no one to want to work with you, it is a tough challenge to bring prestige back in to your brand. That is why it is very important to remain humble irrespective of how much you accomplish whether it is your first day, week, month or year at work.
So think twice about tarnishing your image because no matter how much money you have in this world, your reputation is the one thing you will never be able to buy back.
5. Relationships mean everything in this business
Because our business is such where no tangible products are generated by the firm, relationships mean everything to our colleagues and clients. As a New Associate, you are expected to build strong relationships with not only your colleagues at PwC, but also with your clients. What I like to do when I approach clients for the first time is to gain their trust and establish a working relationship with them before proceeding with any audit-related inquires. This allows the client to feel comfortable and allows them to understand that I am working "with" them, not "against" them.
Although "relationships" might be the last point in this blog post, I believe it is the most important thing that you should keep in mind before your first day at work. The reason why I have it as the last point is because it feeds off each and every other point that I mentioned above.
So get ready to jump in an exciting journey filled with great relationships not only with your colleagues at PwC, but also the diverse and unique client base that PwC has to offer. After all, investing in relationships is what PwC's competitive advantage is over every other firm out there.
As always, I hope you enjoyed and learned something from this blog post. Recruiting season is fast approaching so look out for my future blog posts on recruiting, networking and interviewing tips and tricks! Feel free to leave any comments, suggestions and/or questions in the comment box below as I always love to engage in conversations with my blog fans!