Many young people find it difficult to build credibility in the workplace, in this especially competitive world.
Although I have only been working on two software projects thus far in the corporate world, they have both been under very interesting conditions, and I've seen and observed a lot in a small number of years. I believe I can offer some small pearls of wisdom to people less experienced than myself entering the corporate workforce.
In my experience, a reputation can be built by taking your job, whatever piece of work/line items you own, very seriously. As a true professional.
And the key to driving results in your line items, is just a few basic ideas:
* DISCIPLINE -- doing whatever has to be done, including all the dirty work and "unpleasant" stuff. Think of it this way... the harder you work, the more of the business you see and the more you learn, so its win-win... you drive results and you learn at the same time.
* FOCUS -- don't think too often about the work you are doing... just produce results, while maintaining reasonably good relations with your co-workers. Career planning is something that should be done like once every 6 months, not twice a month. Every 6 months just reevaluate... how did the last 6 months go, what was good, what was bad, and what would you like to do the next 6 months. And try to stay with the same group/organization for at least 2 years at a time even in early career. Oh, and this should be obvious, but separate your personal life from your professional life. If you are going through an especially trying time personally, just be a professional and tough it out... don't bring your personal problems to work. It affects the whole organization.
* CONSISTENCY -- It is better to produce for a focused 50 hours every week than to go on a crazy spurt where you work 90 hours a week for 5 weeks, get burned out, and are completely nonfunctional for the next 2 weeks. Just be consistent, and keep your mind on the job, and make sure to take enough breaks and vary your activities. Make small talk with co-workers. Get to know what their interests are, perhaps, if you work closely with them, what their family situation is.
Also, make sure to maintain good relations with your co-workers. Try to remain humble and not hold grudges. Be assertive and direct when necessary, but not a jerk. Everyone has a different personality and will evolve into their natural workplace persona with time... your time will come as well. But respect your co-workers and don't hold grudges even if you feel you've been thoroughly wronged. You don't want to burn bridges in this world.
Finally, one needs to have interests, hobbies, and a family/friends outside of work in order to really be successful and understand what life really is all about. All that stuff feeds one's creativity so he can be more productive at work, and the productivity at work feeds his self-image which he brings home.
All the best,