You are looking for you first job or first “real” job experience. You are excited and a little bit scared…. But mostly excited! You are going to go out and be amazing and everything is going to perfect and you are going to demonstrate leadership and all of your dreams will come true… Even though, I really hope that will happen, this is how you can maximize that experience and prepare yourself to the challenges ahead.
So here are my tips:
Make mistakes. This is your moment to try, experiment, ask questions, and make mistakes. You don’t need to strive for perfection, but strive to learn the most, be enthusiastically engaged with the topics and the skills you like the most. Do try to do a little bit of everything; you never know what can inspire you.
… But also try to challenge yourself. Trying to stand out and do a good job. Leave your mark.
Starting with simple activities is not shameful. Many entry-level workers, especially after graduation, feel quite annoyed if given basic activities such as making copies, translating, making newsletters. There is no too basic task if you are just starting. I understand that for many there is the fear to be attached to those tasks, but here is where the next tip comes in…
Be explicit about your intentions. This is not just about work, but life as well… Be clear to where you want to reach. Offer to work in projects that you are interested, give your perspective if you are interested in a specific subject.
Get to know, listen and learn from your co-workers. Networking is important, but more than that your first co-workers can teach you a lot. Not only of what to do, but also what not to do. Take the time to learn those lessons. Modelling is a very effective way of moving forward in your career and listening is good advice in general. Find your mentors, the people that can be your resource. Also, on a leadership note, it’s very hard to lead if you don’t know what motivates someone.
Monitor your growth. Identify what skills you are learning during your first experience.
Understand that this is the first step. This is not the last job you ever going to have. It’s good to spend a year or two in your first organization, but you don’t have to endure a toxic environment for a better CV. Understand that this is only the first step in a learning process. Some things are possible to endure. We know that they will make us better and the situation is difficult, but it is possible to overcome. In cases of violence, harassment, bullying or abuse you have the right to walk out and leave. Challenge is good, it helps you grow, it helps you became better. Just remember…
Self-care is important. Don’t let stress overcome your life! Identify your outlets. Try to maintain a work-life balance.
My last piece of advice is: Keep your eyes in the prize… But don’t trade your principles to get there.
Sometimes it does feel like the people who are doing are all the wrong things are getting ahead… But those are cheap gimmicks. A great saying is: Time puts people in their place. How you arrive to that finish line matters. Having integrity, determination and being true to yourself is the difference between having a respectable lasting career or a fast rise to job insecurity and potential fast downfall. Don’t shortchange your career or yourself in this process.
This is all! See you next week, until then…
Best of luck in your search!