In 2001 I entered the corporate world, after reflecting here’s 10 lessons I’ve learned.
I entered the corporate world in 2001, fresh out of an almost-college certificate program that I completed while in Grade 12 (high school). I had no idea what to expect, only the work ethic instilled in me and that I had acquired while working manual labour jobs every summer since I was 13 years old.
I’m often asked what my thoughts are in terms of careers, mentorship and how new career-hungry professionals can make the most out of their careers in the early stages.
Here’s 10 lessons I believe I’ve learned.
Volunteer yourself, especially at the beginning.
Consume everything you can and offer to extend yourself. Be careful not to over-extend yourself, but every area of the business is a learning opportunity and a possibility for you to get involved.
Be careful not to step on toes.
Where you are working for a large organization or a small one, be mindful of processes and personalities. Some processes might make no logical sense, or be the opposite of efficient in your mind, but its important you slowly introduce your thoughts and make a point of understanding why they are in place.
Avoid personally driven work-place conflict. It’s seriously not worth it.
We all have circles of friends, and in those circle of friends experience conflict. Conflict in the workplace due to personal perspectives is a serious detriment to your career.
Embrace work-place “On the job” conflict as an opportunity to learn something and problem solve.
If you are passionate about what you do, care about what you do and are focused on having impact, you are bound to cross paths of individuals who either don’t agree with you, or who are aiming to do the same thing. Remember everytime you ever a seemingly high-conflict situation that you need to LISTEN, and the outcome of the discussion may not be in your favour. However, it will be a learning opportunity and that is a huge win!
Take advantage of every education program possible.
If the company you work for offers incentives or the possibility of continuing your education in absolutely any manner, do it. The business world (in every vertical) is changing drastically every day. It’s important to update the tools in your toolbox.
Find mentors both within the organization and externally.
There will be people above you and beside you within the company who can offer you mentorship. They may not be in the ideal job for you in regards to your future, but they will have insight and be able to answer questions throughout your journey. Make sure you find and network with mentors outside of your organization.
Embrace the industry you are in.
You may not really care about the industry the company you work for is in right now, however it’s important you make an effort to really understand it. The sector could be completely outside of all of your hobbies and passion, but being an expert will do nothing but pay off. Even the most “boring” on the outside companies, have brilliant start-up stories and competitive advantages. Make point to really understand them and utilize them.
Apply for jobs!
If you are focused on staying with the company for a long period of time, it is not a detriment to your career to apply for internal job postings. Manager’s may seem weary when and if they find out you are interviewing for another job within the company, but it is an easy-to-defend position. You simply want to explore other areas of the business. It doesn’t mean you don’t like your current job.
Make a point to get to know your co-workers outside of the workplace.
You don’t have to be best-friends with your co-workers, but grabbing a coffee or going for lunch will drastically improve your working relationships. There’s a lot to be said about understanding WHY people hold the positions they do, what they value and what is going on in their lives outside of work.
Be kind to the cleaning staff.
I will always advocate for being kind to everyone, even in situations of conflict (getting heated can still be done respectfully), but especially pay attention and care about the people who may not get a lot of recognition for a lot of good and hard work. It will pay off later, make you feel good, and brighten their day.