It has been 66 days since the official start of my career. In my final semester at Texas Christian University I had the opportunity to intern with Quisitive, a digital technology consulting company. That experience ended with a job offer and I am now 66 days into my first job. Quisitive, whom is driven in part by the ideal of “starting right” with the work we do, instills this same practice within all employees to follow suit in their endeavors. As I began to think about how I would “start my career” right, I turned to Google and quickly found there are not a lot of us newbies out their sharing our experience. Perhaps a lack of confidence or the fear of someone saying “what does he know 3 months in…” but it forced me to drive my own reflections.
From an observant standpoint and as a recent graduate, it is evident that it is in our ethos to come out of our institutions with a fiery spirit. The feeling that everything is in reach and that world superiority is at our finger tips. There is no doubt that once the initial stage of working begins, it is easy to quickly realize that is simply not the case. Rather than being trapped by the normality of launching your career as so many do, challenge the norm. Take this new opportunity to develop and promote your best self. Leverage being the “new kid on the block” and use it to your advantage to win others over and show off your strengths. In the end, doing this will benefit both your company, and most importantly, yourself.
“Don’t be trapped by dogma—which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.” – Steve Jobs
What I share with you now, I learned amidst my internship and college experience and have now been able to put to the test after two plus months of working in the real-world. Below are the 5 ways I have found success in starting my career right.
All Publicity is Good Publicity
Of course, I mean this in terms of presenting yourself in the most preeminent way, and creating an office buzz as a result. The best way to draw attention is by creating attention yourself. This so-called buzz can be created by something as easily as dressing in a mature and respecting way amongst peers. Or perhaps, going out of your way to spark up conversations with anyone and everyone, regardless of their role or tenure. It can be intimidating as the new kid on the block, people might not be pouncing on you or bombarding you with questions, but remember they are still eager to get to know their new colleague, so strike up conversation. I have always told myself that my most social self is my best self if used in the right manner. Up until this point, that has mostly proven to be true. Most importantly you will create buzz by the quality of effort and work that you produce and put forth. If you combine these things, you will create publicity and promote your inner voice. Aim to find gaps where you can position yourself to be more known, and shape the opinions of others in a positive manner using this publicity. Down the road and by nature, this publicity will lead to a better team dynamic and lead to more opportunity.
Interview Executives in The Company
When I joined Quisitive, one of my initial thoughts was, who can I talk to to learn about the company, and receive good insight on how to get on the fast track as a new employee. For this I looked straight to the top and set up several 30-minute interviews with the company’s executive leaders. For what may seem obvious, the leadership team knows the company the best, and have been around long enough to provide key insight on ways to pursue your career and role most effectively. As a new employee, these 30-minute sessions could very well be defining moments in dictating your approach to your work. Now, I know the thought can be scary, but based off of my own experience, these executives welcome this act of reaching out. If you plan far in advance, and don’t waste their time, both the executive and yourself will find value (ask the right questions). For me, asking questions about the company as whole was important, but receiving insight on how I can fulfill my role in the most effective way possible was my focus. These questions were derived off the philosophical idea of mereology, which is the study of parts and the whole’s in which they combine to form. I told myself, that if I can get as much insight from a variety of areas, then and only then will I have the best idea on how to approach my job and get on the fast track to finding success. Success being defined by as something as simple as being told my first “good job” for work I perform.
Be More Than a Fly on the Wall
You know all those meetings that you are invited to sit in on with people involved with current projects? Being a fly on the wall is a great opportunity to learn from those that know best and to receive first exposure to the kind of work you may come across. First, look for every opportunity to be the fly one the wall in meetings you may not already be invited to. Second, and most important, be fully in tune in these meetings. Being present, but also taking it a step forward and being involved if you find it appropriate. Out of respect, it is important to know when and when not to speak up, but if you feel the need to ask a question, I encourage you to ask because it will show you are present and it will show you are eager to learn. If you think your opinion could provide value, offer it up. You never know about something until you ask, and who knows what underlying opportunities could surface as a result of speaking up. Lastly, always leave a fly on the wall meeting with questions. Because those questions could be the ones that change the way in which you perform your duties and interact with colleagues or customers.
Leverage Others to Kick Start your Position
Just as I discussed earlier about interviewing executives, getting to know your colleagues could prove to be your biggest asset. When I say get to know your colleagues, I don’t mean just asking them how things are going time to time in the hallway, but going out of your way and building rapport with your fellow colleagues. By knowing what your colleagues are doing and offering up a hand when you have cycle time, will lead to more exposure, opportunity, and a more improved work environment. Business is driven by the relationships and cohesiveness of employees. The effort to build those relationships always lies in your court and never expect it to leave your court.
Accept Compliments and Build Self-Esteem
It is one thing thinking about how you will respond to praise and another on how you respond in the moment. My focus here, is to not tell you to only say thank you but to cherish the moment yourself for the short time being. People are constantly being judged and criticized by their actions in the global world whether they are aware of it or not. I write this section because taking praise for accomplishment is just as important as learning from your mistakes. If you are told good job for doing something, use that praise to build your self-esteem to drive you forward and perform at an even higher level for the next task. Even if it is the smallest of tasks, to me, getting praise means I have done well at that particular level and that I am willing to accept that a higher goal is now in reach and worth pursuing. It is crucial to keep in mind that this small celebration should be kept to thy self, and that giving yourself a small pat on the back is never a bad thing. This has a reciprocate as well. Always be willing to give a compliment for a job well done for it will bring happiness to you and others.
This may come as a surprise to many, but we don’t know everything. All the times where you say “I know,” often you are simply trying to play it off as if you do actually know what you are being told or not. Trust me, I have over used that phrase time and time again with my parents (and other) as I’m sure everyone has. There is good criticism and there is bad criticism. In the work place, often you will receive good criticism because it is a colleague or bosses’ way of offering up advice to improve thyself as an individual or your work. Even if this criticism comes across as too critical and raises your heart rate a little, the best thing to do is smile and say thank you. It is then up to you to take this advice, analyze it, and act on it. More times than not the individual that gave the advice will look to see if it came across in future dealings. So, don’t let the advice or teachings go in on ear and out the other. Even as we grow closer to mastering our work each and every day, we will forever be students in this world and a little help / guidance along the way never hurts.
So, tomorrow begins day 67 and I will take all that I have experienced and learned thus far to continue to mature my career.. While my reflections might seem like no-brainers, the key is in the day-to-day reflection.. When starting out in the work place, striving to perfect the smallest of things are what will become your base and building blocks for guiding you to the fast track. The rapport you develop with colleagues, the desire you show to learn, and the way you carry yourself as an individual throughout your workspace will ultimately be the deciding factors that define your success as a new employee. In the mean-time, I will continue to chart goals for myself and maintain mental toughness which will start my own story.
“The future depends on what you do today.” -Gandhi