So you got the job…congratulations! As you start, ask yourself “how do I keep this job and grow my career?” Mentors and advocates at every level of the company are important, they can give you perspective as you think about how you can personally deliver for the company and make your mark.
I really want to see all employees do well in whatever career they have chosen. I offer these tips I think will help differentiate you from others and stand out for doing good work on the road to excellence.
Be a sponge. You’re never too old to learn new things…to be curious and to ask questions, engaging co-workers or experts in your area of interest. Embracing this tip will help you build alliances and show people other interests you have outside your main work focus. You’ll be surprised how people invite you to sit in on meetings, or a presentation where appropriate.
Appreciate the experiences. When you finally get invited to the big pitch meeting, or to go to lunch with the client, show some appreciation and some gravitas. It means you did something right to earn the privilege. If you actually thank your boss and share how much you enjoyed the opportunity to sit in, or participate, I swear to you this will open the door to more opportunities.
Take the Feedback. You get feedback on your performance or a project and as Tim Gunn would say from Project Runway “make it work!” You are going to get feedback throughout every stage of your career. How you handle that information good or bad, is going to set the tone for your employment survival. A true strength in the making is taking and processing feedback to your best advantage. You need to listen for those key things that will help you improve a presentation or project, probe deeper for feedback and suggestions, get over the hurt and anger if it’s negative and get on with the business of improving and getting it right for the next round.
Be realistic. You are probably not going to be a vice president in 3-years if the standard trajectory is 5-8 years. Pace yourself, go above and beyond, but set realistic goals so you don’t disappoint yourself or others. It’s fine to have a lofty goal or two in your back pocket but you need to stay grounded and look around to see how others are tracking. Talk to your boss and make sure as you make your career plans that what you are placing in your 3-5 year plan makes sense.
Show passion and interest. People, who are really passionate about something, don’t really have to say they are, you can see it and feel it. It’s in their voice when they talk about it, and it’s in the way they execute their work, with focus, energy and knowledge. When you are passionate about something you are a quick study to gain more knowledge and insight, and you are present in conversations and attitude about the subject or activity.
Have a sense of urgency. Get it done, get it done now. Time management is your friend. If you have never had organization in your life before, you need to establish some now as you begin your career. The ability to prioritize your work and show efficiency in executing projects is going to be key to your success.
Respect office hours. Okay party girl, you got home at what time and you’re getting to work when? I don’t care what you do on your personal time as long as I don’t see you on the news or TMZ doing it, but you must come to work on time the next day, seamless from your night before and get the work done. You go to lunch, you come back on time… you don’t disappear for 3-hours during the day, come back, work 2-hours and then leave for the day. Arriving on time and working beyond expected hours is such an easy behavior to accomplish that it is almost heart breaking when people fall down here. If you are junior staff, people will notice when you are not at your desk, because most of the time you are supporting others with administrative tasks and duties that keep them going throughout the day.
Notice and do things the company way! I’m not telling you not to be an individual or to not try to differentiate yourself with new and innovative ideas. I am telling you every business has a culture, a language and a belief in how business gets done. Those who learn that language move faster and are considered dexterous and quick studies. And those who constantly need reminding of doing things in line with the company culture or purpose utilizing a consistent language or method of getting business done are taking up space and wasting time in having to be reminded of how things are expected to be done within the company. Every company has a way that work gets done, whether it’s conservative and people dress in suits and are in their chairs by 8:30 am or relaxed in a jeans wearing environment, where people get started later in the day but work through the night. You will have to figure it out!
And this last tip, Build good relationships with peers and subordinates. A great team player knows how to work relationships up and down the ladder. Your boss is not the only one you need to have a great relationship with as you move forward in your career. It’s important to be able to work projects with peers in a productive manner and when you finally have staff to support your efforts whether an intern over the summer or an assistant, having a good relationship in which they feel supported and nurtured will mean volumes when you need someone to cover your back.
Now go be brilliant!
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As a millennial in the workplace, what’s the biggest challenge you face as you build your career?