Key Takeaway: Develop A Process That Organizes Your Experiences
I just finished writing a book called Careerismo which outlines how women get started in their careers. I intentionally kept my book condensed and concise, which means there’s more useful content to be shared with you. In this and future blog posts, I will cherry pick and post the following types: 1) I will unpack, and provide further insights into, some of the most important and involved topics which were covered in the book; 2) I will make the best content which did not appear in the book available to you. I will label both versions of these posts Careerismo 2.0.
In Careerismo, I mention sources of advice to take when starting your career. However, I do not provide great depth on this topic. Let’s unpack it a bit further. The best source of advice to take into account are your own experiences. Starting out, you don’t know if you will like your job or the industry you work in or, for that matter, whom to trust when building relationships. I would suggest that you understand all aspects of your first job inside-out. Treat it as your main domain area where you develop expertise. You want to be an expert on how to succeed on your first job. After all, it starts your career and is why you are employed in the first place.
The challenge you face after starting is that you do not have enough career experiences. There are a lot of ways you can gain more of these experiences. Get outside of your cubicle. Meet co-workers and understand their projects; read company newsletters; get to know people “in the know” at the levels of team, department and division; and talk to key customers so that you can benefit from outside perspectives on the company you work for.
When I started a job in a Fortune 500 company straight out of college, I read about an acquisition our company had made in the tech sector. After working one year in an entry-level position, where I performed to the best of my ability, I stayed at the company, switched jobs and worked in another industry. This allowed me to move from construction to technology, which I knew would be much more of an exciting field to work in. I originally heard about the technology acquisition in a company newsletter. Next, I ran down managers from the tech business in order to build relationships and get to know all of the key people involved. This process positioned me well and allowed me to get my name in early. Soon after, I was able to transfer over to the tech concern my company had acquired. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I put myself in a good position to succeed. More importantly, I did so using a process that organized my experiences. You should do the same.
Get good at the initial job you were hired for by understanding all of the main activities your predecessors performed to succeed. Then add that special mix of talents only you can bring to the job. Once you start demonstrating success, and feel you have figured out key parts of your job, start looking around for ways to grow. Assuming there are new assignments, room to improve or other opportunities you can develop; there might be ways you can do so within your existing position. If not, perhaps you are up for new challenges elsewhere in the company.
It’s important to monitor your levels of excitement and motivation to arrive at work ready and willing to perform your job. Both are fairly reliable indicators to what’s next in your career. The series of steps outlined in this post offer a basic example of what I mean by organizing your experiences. Use them to frame an organizational construct and modify it as needed to make it your own. You can take mental notes along the way or, better yet, keep a journal of your career experiences to gain deeper insights.
The knowledge you gain by organizing your work experiences will be valuable in guiding the success of your current and future career.