Rule #1: Give your best effort

Unwritten Rule of Engineering #1: However menial and trivial your early assignments appear, give them your best efforts.

Many young engineers feel that the minor chores of a technical project are beneath their dignity and unworthy of their college training. They expect to prove their true worth in some major, vital enterprise. Actually, the spirit and effectiveness with which you tackle your first humble tasks will very likely be carefully watched and may affect your entire career.

… [Long term] success depends so largely upon personality, native ability, and vigorous, intelligent prosecution of any job that it is no exaggeration to say that your ultimate chances are much better if you do a good job on some minor detail than if you do a mediocre job as a project leader. Furthermore, it is also true that if you do not first make a good showing on your present job you are not likely to be given the opportunity to try something else …

As a manager, and now an executive running a software organization, I definitely agree: we look to give greater responsibility and authority to people who are doing a great job regardless of the assignment over those who only excel on specific projects.