Being able to own your career at a young age will only help you in the long run. It often takes people way too long to muster up the courage and strength to own their career – which can of course, be rather detrimental. Stand up for what you believe in and what you want out of life because nobody can make that decision for you – except for you.
1. Seek a mentor.
A mentorship is probably the single most valuable action you can take to own your career. Most organizations at the entry level will offer mentorship programs where they pair a new employee with a veteran employee in order to gain a better understanding of the organization. If your organization does not offer a structure program, seek out a mentor on your own. You can look to a previous manager, someone in a position you see yourself in in the future, or just a friend who has a little bit more experience than you. Leverage your mentor’s network, take note of your mentor’s career choices, and most importantly absorb. Absorb everything he or she has to say.
2. Begin networking for your next role.
This does not mean signal you are dissatisfied with your current role, this just means you are ambitious and forward-looking. You should always know where the next place you want to be is — whether it is a specific role, a general area or another position directly above you. Regardless of the direction of change you are seeking – horizontal or vertical – be comfortable engaging those in that position or similar. Learn what it took from them to get there and ask how you can get to that role.
3. Do the things nobody else wants to do.
Volunteer to organize the team lunch, send out a recap of meeting minutes, or offer to run the package down to the company post office. The saying “little things go a long way” as never been more true than it is now in corporate America. It also should not appear as “sucking up”. By offering to take on the smaller, daunting tasks or less glamorous tasks is like putting in your “hours”. At one point, your manager was in your shoes and did exactly that.
4. Learn about the industry beyond the context of your organization.
Competitive analysis and competitive statistics will be utilized all the time in any organization in order to benchmark your organization versus the competition. However, what meetings and your team will not teach you is the context and history behind them. Nobody has time to teach you about the industry you are in. Everyone around you has been working within it for quite sometime so forgive them for not providing a 101 course. Take the time to read materials within your industry, get a newspaper subscription or download an app. In your commute or on the weekends instead of watching TV take 30 minutes a day to learn about the industry you are in. Knowing beyond what the company can offer you will help you advance and understand faster.
5. Love what you do and if you don’t leave now.
Everyday you must wake up and go to work. You will most likely spend 8+ hours of your day, 40+ hours of your week and for the next 50+ years of your life working – so love what you do and do what you live. It is as simple as that. If you don’t believe in what you are doing, enjoy the work you are doing and like what is going on around you on a daily basis you will be miserable. If you are the person who comes home and says, “I hate my job” daily. This is a direct call out to you. You have the power to change it, so do it.