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3 tips for interns and grads to succeed at work

While Brittany Courtney is nearly a decade removed from being a college graduate, she can still vividly remember her time entering the workforce in 2011 through Capital One’s Management Rotation Program (MRP). She recalls jumping into meaningful work on day one, navigating how to network and nearly bursting with a million questions to ask colleagues. 

Now as a vice president of product management for Financial Services, Brittany meets with interns and recent grads to share advice about career success. 

“Capital One is a place that nurtures the growth of interns and recent grads in a way that really prepares them for long-term success,” Brittany said. “I still lean on contacts and lessons I made in my first few years here.” 

Check out Brittany’s top three tips for students and recent grads.

Tip 1: Ask many questions

“Often, when you’re new to a company or a job you feel like you need to put off a certain level of knowledge and not ask too many questions. We interviewed you extensively. We hired you for a reason. We know you’re capable. It’s a positive move to ask questions.

“The more questions you ask, the more it shows your interest, engagement and how you’re thinking through a problem. It also provides opportunities for us to coach and shape your problem-solving. Take advantage of that first 90 days where everyone expects you to have a ton of questions, because there’s a bunch you can learn in that time.”

Tip 2: Challenge yourself

“Push yourself to continuously be in a position where you feel challenged. I often find that once you’re in a spot where you’re very comfortable and you’re no longer questioning if you can do the job, then it’s time to move on. You should always be a little uncomfortable, because that’s how you grow. The industry changes. The work changes. The technology changes. It’s amazing when you can grow through change.”

Tip 3: Change up your mentors

“I think we misuse mentors a lot. When you’re thinking about mentors, consider what you want to be better at. You should pick one or two goals to work with a mentor on. Don’t try to conquer a bunch at once because you just inevitably won’t be able to. Once you identify what that goal is, you find someone who does that thing really, really well and have them teach you how to do it. Don’t be afraid to let that mentorship expire once you’ve learned what you needed to.

“The second thing to consider with mentors is identify your work style and compare it with who you’re considering. If you are fairly introverted or quiet, you don’t want to find the most boisterous person in the room and try and do what they do because that’s not going to be authentic to who you are. Find the person whose personality is similar, approach is similar and work with that person to sort of understand your unique style.”

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