I started my first “official” job some months ago, in the field for which I have studied – Civil Engineering. The reason for me writing this post is that I wanted to share what I have learnt during these last few months in industry. Maybe it would help anyone who is starting out, or it could give some insight as to what those who are still headed for this experience can expect.
1) it’s all about the networking
These days the working world is extremely saturated. Having a good academic record and resume is not necessarily going to land you your dream job. This is why it is so important to network, as it gives you the opportunity to build your connections in the field you plan on starting a career in. Meeting new people and reconnecting with old acquaintances broadens your horizons with different opportunities that could be useful not only now, but in the future too.
2) You are going to make mistakes, LOTS of them
The sooner you accept this, the better. It will shake your confidence in ways that you never thought possible, but it is the way you build experience. The only way to perfect your skills and improve in your work is to make mistakes so that you can learn from them. People might get frustrated with you and you may think you are useless at your job, but don’t give up. Your boss was in your position once too, and as long as you fix your mistakes and learn from it you should not be so hard on yourself.
3) Try to think of it as a stepping stone
Your first job may not be your dream job and you may feel frustrated about this. But you should remember that the experience you are gaining today will count in your favour for your future job application. It may help to think of your first job (or any job) as a stepping stone required to get you to the place you wish to be in your career. Make the most out of it so that you can slowly build the path for where you want to be one day.
4) Always uphold your good reputation
Where ever you work, remember that you are leaving your mark at that company. It’s completely up to you what kind of mark you want to leave. Be someone that your team can depend on by simply showing up to work on time. Being late shows a complete lack of respect towards the people you’re working with – which is not a good impression you want people to have of you. Try to build a good reputation at your place of work because you always want your ex-employer to be a good reference for you when/if you decide to leave.
5) Find a balance between work and play
Everyone needs to find this balance. Your life cannot revolve around your work, but at the same time you can’t allow your personal life to affect your job. People are depending on you in both aspects of your life. Try to produce your best work during working hours. If you can do this then there is no reason for you to sacrifice your free time.
6) It doesn’t happen over night
You are not going to become an expert in your field over night. You have to be prepared to work hard and build yourself up so that you are an asset to your company, or so that the next person would want to hire you. Continue to educate yourself and develop the skills you need to stay up to date with the ever changing world out there.
7) Be a sponge
Absorb every bit of information and every ounce of knowledge thrown your way. Ask questions when you’re unsure about something and don’t be afraid if you don’t know. Remember that whoever is giving you this information was once where you are. They too knew very little and had to ask questions in order to gain knowledge to become the professionals that they are today. Sometimes your boss or mentor expects you to know something, which is really unfair if you’ve never dealt with a certain situation before. Do research and try to soak up as much as you can, so that you can improve at your job.
What advice can you give based on what you’ve learnt in the working world?