I remember that when I graduated from university five years ago, I was filled with much confidence and certainty that I would be an instant success. Little did I know that life was going to hit me really hard.
I stumbled in the workforce. I made a lot of mistakes. I disappointed myself and others. I walked into jobs that I shouldn’t have. I had amazing bosses and not so amazing bosses.
My career development process has been rocky but it’s taught me a lot. I’m glad to say that in spite of the many difficulties, I have made progress. I have moved up in roles and salary. I have refined my understanding of where I fit in the work-world.
For recent graduates and young ladies just starting out at their first job, here is what you need to know.
You Should Always Improve Your Skills
Entering the workforce is the beginning of another form of school. The learning process starts all over again. Don’t assume that you know everything because you don’t.
You will have to learn more and improve on what you already know. Be willing to take new relevant courses that will help you on the job. Be willing to learn from other co-workers and your boss.
When you can improve on your skills, you became that much more valuable. You can then move up in roles and get a higher pay.
You Have To Accept Feedback
In order to get better and improve yourself, you have to take feedback. It’s not easy to accept but don’t attach yourself to it so personally.
When you work for a company, you have to understand that the company’s interest is the best thing in mind. That means you have to consider the best ways to advance the company’s mission forward.
Feedback is not just aimed at you but in the best interest of the company’s mission, values and reputation.
Be Willing To Try Something Outside of Your Skills
Yes, it’s uncomfortable to do things you are not good at. Nobody likes to feel embarrassed and fail. However, it might happen often. That is not bad because you use the experience to grow.
By trying other things outside of your skills, you expand your capabilities. You also figure out yourself better and understand what roles you are best suited for.
Network In and Outside of Your Job
Some people believe that once they get a job, networking stops. This is wrong. You should network with others while still working.
This is because every connection is valuable in some way in your life. Even if you have a job, there is still something more to learn from others in other aspects of your life.
Be open to always forming new connections so that you have a wide network to exchange, brainstorm and contribute ideas.
You Can Have Many Mentors
Most people know that mentorship is important. However, some assume that your boss or direct supervisor has to be a mentor. That is not always the case.
You can have a co-worker who is like a mentor to you. You could know someone outside work who serves as a mentor to you. Don’t have a fixed image of what a mentorship relationship has to be.
You simply should be open to the process of learning from others and also offering value back in some way.
Don’t Expect Your Job To Fulfill All Your Dreams
Yes, it’s good to be passionate. However, sometimes, the reality is that your job might not be your passion. Your job might just be what you need to maintain yourself for now. Or your job is what will help you to pursue your passions.
It’s fine to have ideal organizations and roles you want. That does not mean one job will fulfill all requirements.
You can find your passions and meaning outside of work. Don’t bring so many expectations of what your job should be especially if you are just starting out.
Having A Side Hustle Is An Advantage
Having a side hustle or a passion project will help you in many ways. For one, it will help you to strengthen your best skills.
Secondly, it can serve as a portfolio when you search for jobs.
Plus, if your job is not very fulfilling, it helps to have a passion project that gives you meaning and makes you happy.
Lastly, a side hustle can help you to add to your income if it’s profitable.
You Should Have A Website
In the virtual world that we live in, it’s imperative to have some sort of online presence. Having a website is great to show the world who you are, your capabilities and your projects.
Having a website puts you fully in charge of your own brand so that you get to control how you’re seen online.
You should start with your own website right from school. Then after, continue to update it as you go. If you’re not updating your website, make sure that you’re at least updating your LinkedIn profile often.
Be Patient with Your Career Process
The truth is that your first job might not your dream job. Your first job might not be a full-time job. You might not even get immediately hired after graduation and NYSC for Nigerians. It could take months of waiting and going through unemployment.
You will go through ups and downs. You get a job. You quit or you lose a job. Your passions might change. All this is normal. Don’t be too hard on yourself if your career process is rocky.
You just have to keep moving forward little by little.
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