Work, work, work... No, I’m not quoting Rihanna. I’m talking about starting out your career. As an apprentice who started their first proper job at 18 for a global company, it’s fair to say that the transition from school to the workplace was a scary one. Being the eldest child of immigrant parents who hadn’t worked regular office jobs, I didn’t have the privilege of knowing what to expect from the workplace. I’m sure there are many other young people in similar positions so I want to share 10 key lessons from my own personal experiences to help you succeed.
1) Common sense is not that common.
Believe it or not, common sense is a valuable skill in the workplace. You’ll find yourself in many situations where someone can’t solve something and you think ‘isn’t the answer to that just…?’ Don’t be afraid to give these simple answers; they are usually right! The chances are what’s ‘obvious’ to you isn’t so obvious to someone else. Use your common sense to help you problem solve where you might not know all the technical stuff.
2) Your attitude to work is key.
Your attitude says a lot about your character and is how people will remember the type of person you are. Always see challenges as opportunities to grow and succeed rather than to trip and fail. Be mindful of the energy that you put out when doing work rather than getting caught up in just finishing it.
3) Don’t be so dramatic.
Having a bad day at work is not you failing at your career and it doesn’t mean you need to think about quitting your job. When you start working, you’ll have good days as well as bad ones. It’s completely normal to accept you’re not having the best day sometimes without thinking your entire life is falling apart.
4) Stay curious.
Asking questions is the difference between someone who knows how to do their job and someone who knows both how to do it and why they’re doing it. Teams in a company are
like jigsaw pieces so whether you are working in IT, Finance, HR or anywhere else, connect the pieces to get the full picture. The better you can do this, the more satisfaction you’ll get from your job. Suddenly, that boring spreadsheet becomes an interesting tool.
5) Having a work-life balance.
As a newbie, you may feel like every task you’re assigned with is an urgent one which means doing it right there and then. Whilst some tasks need to be done quickly, others might not. Get into the habit of checking the timeframe with your manager to know how long you have to get things done. Looking back, there were so many times where I was working extra hours on tasks I thought had to be done today that could’ve easily waited till tomorrow. Try to stick as close to your core working hours as you can, whilst remaining flexible, but always know when to cut-off from the job. Work-life balance is important for your mental health so please don’t ignore it.
6) The art of time management.
Your time is like money so learning how to spend it properly when working is super important. Start your day off right by spending a few minutes listing your important actions for the day before rushing into all the admin. Avoiding multi-tasking is also key as studies find it actually reduces your productivity by as much as 40%! Keep things simple. You’ll start to notice how much more you are able to get out of your working day.
7) Don’t be scared to ask for help.
When starting out, it’s impossible to know everything so you will naturally feel like you don’t fully understand certain things. Let someone know sooner rather than later. Nobody is
judging you or thinks you are any less intelligent. If anything, they will appreciate your honesty and see that maybe they could’ve explained things a little better themselves.
8) Enjoy the journey, not just the milestones.
Whilst you may have your eyes set on being a senior manager by age X and want to climb fast up the career ladder, take time to pause and appreciate your growth every once in a while. You usually find that your current situation is where you dreamed of being a year ago. Appreciate these smaller wins as much as the bigger ones.
9) Learn the company culture.
Whilst there are similarities in the British working culture, there are also many things specific to the company you are working for. It will take time to get to learn these invisible rules but it’s important that you do, so that you are able to understand ‘the way we do things around here’.
10) Don’t just work. Network.
Whilst this word is often overused, networking is super important. Simply put, it’s really just about keeping an open mind and going out of your comfort zone to connect with new
people. It’s a great way to help you find mentors, coaches and friends who can help in bringing out your potential and also a smart way to get your name out there. So many fantastic opportunities I’ve had at work have been off the back of networking.