Every career path is different, and that’s something no one tells you as you begin your professional career. You’ve heard that you’ll work your way up from the bottom, that you’re going to expect this at work, that you should expect that in the office, and many people tell you to expect the career you choose to follow a specific path. The truth is every career is different, even when you have the same career as someone else. Your experience is what you make of it, and that’s why it’s time someone shares with you what you need to know about beginning your career that no one ever tells you.
1. Education Isn’t Everything
Sure, Harvard graduate looks better on a resume than attending a local community college, but that very expensive piece of paper matters far less than your abilities. It’s your attitude, your willingness to work hard, speak up, and make a name for yourself that stands out the most. Most people would rather promote the person who does the best job rather than the one with the best education.
2. Speak Up
Some people don’t want to ruffle feathers or make a scene in the office, but you need to. If you disagree with something, respectfully do so at meetings. If someone else is taking credit for your work, be the person who proves you did the work. If you see flaws in someone’s idea, offer some constructive criticism and a potential solution to improve their idea. If you think you have a better solution, speak up.
3. Be Nice and Don’t Gossip
No one ever tells you that you can’t make friends at work, but they also never tell you how not to make friends at work. Don’t engage in office gossip. It makes you look bad, it makes people less trusting of you, and it minimizes your accomplishments when you become known as the person who talks about everyone else.
4. You Can Negotiate
You should negotiate. The worst people can tell you at work is no. No isn’t the end of the world, but yes can make a big difference in your world. Additionally, you can negotiate more than just money. Many companies allow you to negotiate your hours, relocation expenses, days you get to work from home, your vacation, and much more. Try it and see what happens!
5. Dream Big
Don’t follow the mold and assume you must do this, that, and the other to get where you want to get. The workforce has changed a lot since your parents were starting out, and you have more opportunities now than they ever did. You can do anything you want, but you have to have a vision, dedication, and the know-how to get it done. You can have anything you want if you’re good enough to make it happen at work or home.
Just starting your new career is intimidating, but it’s a great time in your life. Let yourself make mistakes, and handle them with grace. If you want to impress the people you work with, admit to your mistakes by owning them, fixing them, and learning from them, so you don’t make them again. Each mistake you make is a valuable learning tool, and each learning tool only makes you better at what you do.