How Much Responsibility will I Have When I Start my Job?

As an undergrad, you have a certain level of responsibility.  You need to go to class, get certain grades, and complete projects on time.  A lot of that responsibility, however, is up to your discretion.  If you do not believe you need to go to class or get a certain grade, you don’t put in the effort to do so.

Once you make the transition to your first job in Corporate America, responsibility is heightened.  You have expectations set by your management for project timelines and delivery dates that you are required to follow or you risk getting low performance ratings or losing your job.  This increased pressure can, at times, be overwhelming.  But nothing to be overly concerned with from the moment you walk in the door.  Here is a timeline of your responsibility and how it will increase over time (this timeline assumes you stay in the same job for 12+ months):

Day 1: Your only responsibility is finding the building.  You will, likely, have day 1 orientation, so your day will be occupied by training.

Day 7: You’ll be integrated with your team.  Your responsibility is to know who is on your team and their role(s). You will have a high-level understanding of what your goals and daily projects will be.  You will start to be brought into meetings and will be expected to ask a lot of questions to get yourself up to speed on what is going on.

Week 2: You will have been given training on your daily projects and internal systems and are now expected to understand how they work on your own.  This training is integral because you now have the tools to do your job.  If your company is not training you on how to use the necessary tools, you need to ask for that training.

Month 2: At this point you’ve had plenty of time to understand what is going on with your team.  Your responsibility is now to add value to your team by driving projects.  While you still won’t have the answer to everything, you’ll be resourceful enough to figure it out.

Month 3: You are looked at as the go-to person in your projects.  You’ve been there long enough to understand who the right people are, where to go when you need help, and your responsibility reflects that.  You’ve had plenty of time to get comfortable with the role and your responsibilities and expectations have progressed along with your knowledge of the projects and company you support.

Month 6: Now is the time for your mid-year review.  At this point you may have seen a project or two be completed, so it is a good time to reflect on the responsibilities you’ve had and to share your thoughts with your manager.  Assuming you’ve done a great job, your responsibilities and expectations will increase.  Your manager now trusts that you can do great work and you’ll be eligible to take on larger, or more prominent projects.

Month 12: After delivering successfully throughout the year, you’ve shown you can handle increased responsibility.  Now that you’ve proven yourself for a full year, the stakes are raised.  Your responsibilities may reflect those of someone at the next pay grade or position above yours.  This is a great opportunity for you to step up and earn your way into that next pay grade or position by continuing to deliver at higher and higher levels.

As you can see, on day 1 you are not expected to perform at the same level of someone that has been there 12 months.  Your responsibilities are proportionate to the amount of time you’ve been on your team or at your company and the amount of experience you’ve had.  CSU has heard from recent graduates who were concerned about the increased level of responsibility that comes with Corporate America.  This is a misguided concern, because your company will ensure you have all the tools needed to complete your job and do so successfully.