Five Hints for Starting Your Career Well

Some time ago, our team received a note describing an all too frequent scenario:

I am a 23-year-old male, single (recently dumped), employed as a restaurant server, a former high school soccer athlete, and an intermediate violinist. I identify as an agnostic and I plan on returning to school part-time in the Spring, but right now I want to do well on my job.

Recently, my poor choices in life brought me to the point of an epiphany: I am an unproductive, unhealthy individual. Without going into too much detail, I suck. I have wasted away the last 5 years of my life by drinking, smoking, and carousing around on a shameful scale. My regrets are numerous and my achievements slim to none. Many of my mistakes are irreparable. Again… without going into much detail, I suck. 

I thirst for change – I want to thrive!

I saw an article talking about the Growing Leaders program and decided it might help me, along with a few other resources, rectify my life. I am a bit overwhelmed by the many resources (i.e. books) available on the Growing Leaders website.

Could you make some recommendations?

Five Hints for Starting a Career Well

Because we not only work with students, but young professionals, we released a Habitudes® book a few years ago. (Habitudes are images that form leadership habits and attitudes). It contains 13 principles I believe every young person would benefit from embracing as they launch their first job. Here are five important ones below:

1. Coffee Step 

Often, a new professional may be asked to do what they consider to be menial tasks, like getting the coffee. Their natural response is—do you realize I have a bachelor’s degree? Do you not know how smart and talented I am?  Why are you asking me to get the coffee?  What they may not realize is: early tasks are to demonstrate trust—not talent. A supervisor may ask a young team member to do a small thing to demonstrate they’re willing to do whatever it takes to succeed and to prove they are ready for more. Small steps lead to big ones.

2. Crockpots and Microwaves

Young professionals often begin their careers with big ambitions, as they should. What they may not realize is—careers almost always progress more slowly than we’d like them to. Instead of getting impatient at how slowly that big promotion is in coming—they must remember their career is in a crockpot—not a microwave. In a world of “instant answers” that are “on demand” it helps to know our careers are in a slow cooker. And their flavor is much better than anything coming out of a microwave oven. We must demonstrate commitment.

3. Motivation File

Frequently, a young team member will see all kinds of ways the company could be managed better. They have ideas they want to share to improve the status quo, but when declared, they can be unwanted and ignored. If this happens, the employees can become disgruntled and negative. Instead, we suggest they start a “motivational file.” They should begin an electronic list of ideas they would do if they were in charge, knowing that one day, they likely will be in charge. This prevents them from losing the idea and allows them to maintain a positive attitude in their current role.

4. Trains and Tracks

Often, young team members are creatives, who assume they don’t need all the policies their company has put in place. In fact, those rules and policies seem to slow them down. Young employees must remember there is a reason for such systems. Just like a locomotive engineer would be ludicrous to think he could jump off the tracks and move more quickly up a mountain without them, they must recognize that systems (tracks) are their friends, and usually they will enable them to reach their destinations more quickly—if handled well.

5. Apartments and Homes

Today’s marketplace is called the “gig economy.” Young professionals see their job as a gig that might last for a few years at best, then they’ll move on. After all, they have a plan to do something big and can get bored with a job quickly. While this may be true, success always comes when people “own” their job rather than “rent” it. Just like we tend to treat a home we own better than an apartment we merely rent, young professionals must carry an “ownership” mindset. No doubt, their employer will notice.

Know anyone who’d benefit from “hints” like these? Check out “Habitudes For New Professionals on our store.

Habitudes for New Professionals: The Art of Launching Your Career

The Art of Launching Your Career helps young employees and new professionals:

  • Overcome a sense of entitlement towards tasks that seem “beneath them”
  • Persevere in a career when it may move slower than they wish
  • Trust their supervisor, even when they don’t completely agree with an objective
  • Take initiative and set the pace for other teammates
  • Stay creative, even when a supervisor doesn’t embrace their ideas

Order your copy of the newest Habitudes book today!

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Five Hints for Starting Your Career Well