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Super Grad How-Tos: Tips to Achieving in the Working World

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By Christina Orlovsky, contributor 


With nursing students graduating across the country, it may seem difficult to distinguish yourself from the pack. But by practicing a few simple steps, you can successfully sell yourself as a super achiever. 

Business expert David Lorenzo stresses the importance of putting your best foot forward into the workplace in his book Career Intensity: Business Strategy for Workplace Warriors and Entrepreneurs

“New grads want to be career superstars and not just run-of-the-mill, everyday employees,” Lorenzo said. 

While new-graduate nurses may not be venturing out into the corporate jungle, they are entering a new world filled with competition. The same rules apply for graduates of all educational programs. According to Lorenzo, there are three key things nursing school graduates must do to get a leg up on the health care competition. 

Be self-aware 

“Know what you’re passionate about,” Lorenzo said. “All nurses have a higher sense of purpose and a desire to help people, but helping people in a pediatric unit is different than helping people in a geriatric unit. You want to know what really gets you fired up and passionate.” 

Once you determine what drives you, you will be able to reflect that to potential employers and, once you get the job, to your patients and your coworkers. 

“If you know yourself and select an area of specialty where you’re highly passionate, you’ll feel good about going to work every day,” he added. “That’s when you’ll be able to do the greatest good.” 

Create value 

“Nurses obviously have a strong sense of mission--you’re natural value creators,” Lorenzo explained. “But going out of your way to show this value for an entire 12-hour shift is tough.” 

In order to extend that sense of value through a long shift, Lorenzo recommended practicing what he called “external orientation,” thinking all the time about how what you’re doing is affecting other people: your coworkers, physicians, your patients and their families. 

“When you interview for a job, I highly recommend that you talk about this connection to other people and how you want to work at that facility because you feel a strong connection to the people you come into contact with,” he said. “Always look at the value you have from the perspective of your customer—in health care, the patient.” 

Demonstrate value 

Once you are cognizant of the fact that what you are doing affects so many different people in your working environment, be sure to demonstrate this on a daily basis. 

“As nurses, you tend to be in an environment that can be filled with big egos,” he said. “You may have to help some of the people you work with understand the value you bring to the workplace.” 

One way to do this, Lorenzo suggested, is to tell anecdotes based on your experiences, demonstrating what you’ve been able to achieve or accomplish through a friendly story. 

“You will have the person captured because they’re interested in what you have to say,” he said. “I’ve seen even the biggest egos melt when someone tells a touching story. Tell them on a regular basis.” 

As touching and emotional as you may be, there is one more key to being a super achiever in the workplace: confidence. 

“Everyone who is graduating from nursing school needs to understand that you’re better than you think you are, and approach your new position with that mindset,” Lorenzo concluded. 

“As people we tend to discount our ability, particularly people who are in a demanding position that requires a high sense of mission,” he added. “If you have the confidence to realize that you’re better than you think you are, it will come through to your superiors and your patients. If a nurse walks into a patient’s room confident and feeling good about the value you’re bringing that patient, the patient senses that and it makes them feel better. This confidence has to come through in every way from the first interview to when you're finally out there interacting with patients.” 

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