Just Starting Out? Here’s Some of Our Best Advice
Everyone has a little of advice to give, and we’re no different. Of course, we have a bit of a specialty area: employment and career. So if you could use some guidance in this area, sit back and have an open mind.
I personally have two bits of advice. The first: “No excuses”. I once worked a side gig where in the company’s conference room there was a sign that said exactly that. It seems like an innocuous statement, but they really took it seriously and did not allow any excuses. Instead they wanted solutions. No finger pointing, no blame. Just how do we fix it? If anyone started with anything that sounding like an excuse, they’d point at the sign. The person would have to stop and change their thinking. You can take yourself to the next level by embracing no excuses. Notice I, or they, didn’t say: no mistakes. You can learn from a mistake; mistakes are valuable. Excuses get you nothing and nowhere.
My next bit is a serious pet peeve of mine: saying “It’s not my job.” I absolutely cringe when I hear it. Never say it or take the attitude. If you do, it’s unlikely get beyond your entry level job. So unless you’re happy there, take a different approach. Think of all you might miss out on by taking the “it’s not my job” attitude: learning opportunities, valuable contacts, a reputation for cooperation and collaboration, new appreciation for others, and so on. Believe me when I say that not being content with “just my job” has gotten me a lot further than my formal education or any job description ever has. You wouldn’t be reading this for starters. Writing a blog is nowhere in my job description, but I do it because I think it is valuable to my employer, our customers, and my career.
Shannon has this to say: “The advice I would give someone is to think about what you value when considering employment. Does it provide you with the work/life balance you desire? Is the pay scale adequate for what you want to do with your money when you aren’t working? Is it important that the work you do is something that you care about?” A lot of people think work is about making money. There’s nothing wrong with that, but you will find as you start working that the things that will make you unhappy may have nothing to do with the money you make. You may find that there’s no advancement, or you have toxic co-workers/boss, or the work is unfulfilling that is making you want to quit your job. Putting some thought into what is the most important factor(s) is will help you find a job you’ll want to do.
Next is Lexie who has this to offer: “The best piece of career advice I got was don’t burn your bridges. Always ensure you have people who can serve as your professional references and make sure to talk to them at least once a year.” Professional references are important and will be hard to find if you burn those bridges. The most valuable professional reference you can have is a former supervisor so think twice about just walking off a job or being a difficult employee. That supervisor may make or break your opportunity at a dream job.
Heather says “Even though you are young, it’s not too early to save for retirement.” Can you tell she’s an accountant? She’s right though. Every year it costs more and more to retire, and one can’t rely on social security anymore. The earlier you start saving for retirement the more comfortable you’ll be when you actually retire. You might even be able to retire early, which is a far better outcome than working until you die because you can’t afford to retire.
Mary shares a quote that she loves “Choose a job that you love and you will never work a day in your life.” This quote is from Confucius, a Chinese philosopher that was born about 551 BCE. It’s an old quote but so valid, even today. Finding work you love may feel elusive sometimes, especially when you’re just starting out and figuring out what you do and don’t like doing. However, when you find it you know it because it doesn’t feel like work; it’s a joy to do.
You’ll look forward to going to work and doing what you do. It also means, don’t settle. If the job doesn’t make you happy, it doesn’t matter how much you may make, you will be an unhappy person. And we spend too much of our time at work to be unhappy.
Our last contributor, Amy, says “Always be yourself. Always ask for help, and if you don’t need it, ask if there is any other way you can be of assistance whenever you have a chance.” It’s good advice. People will respect you for being yourself. That doesn’t mean don’t have a professional demeanor; that’s essential. However, if you’re a creative person, bring that creativity to your work. If you have a dry sense of humor, don’t change it to fit in. Moving on, asking for help is not a weakness; it’s a learning opportunity. Your co-workers and your boss want you to learn so you know how to do your job to the best of your abilities. Offering help when you can will also earn you respect as well as the opportunity to learn more. It also shows initiative, which is always highly prized by employers.
Hopefully, our advice was helpful to you. We put a lot of thought into it. What’s the best advice you’ve received? Let us know in the comments!