One question I always asked when I was interviewing for jobs was, “What do you wish you knew back when you started, that you know now?” (Feel free to use that, by the way, if you want.)
Now, after a few years of experience, I realize there are a few things I wished I knew before starting my job and I’ve decided to share them.
It is best to listen twice (maybe three times) and speak once – This one is huge. This isn’t school. You don’t need to be the first one to answer and you don’t need to try to get a laugh. Sure. There is a time and place for everything, but trying to get a laugh every time can give people the wrong perception of you and you might lose credibility. Think quality over quantity when speaking up. When you’re new, just realize people are still forming their opinion of you, so there is nothing wrong with speaking up, but just make sure you don’t ask a stupid question. And yes…there such things as stupid questions.
Don’t expect praise/promotion for doing your job – Don’t assume you doing your job will earn you a promotion or praise – they pay you to do the job. If you are new and learning, ask for feedback every once in a while, but if keep the mentality that no news is good news. If you do want praise and a promotion, let’s be honest we all do, then do more. Stay late. Improve something. Everyone around is working hard, you have to separate yourself by not only doing what is expected of you well, but doing what isn’t expected of you well.
Never stop learning – This one seems pretty straight forward. Our industry is always changing and always developing. You not only need to know what’s coming, but you need to try to guess what’s coming next. If your client hears about something that you haven’t heard of, no matter how silly or small scale it is, you will lose some credibility. If you are able to go back to school to get a graduate degree, I would recommend it because it shows work ethic and your desire to grow.
Saying “no” is a no-no – Your boss, your colleagues all want to know how much you can handle. If someone asks you if you can help them out or if you can take on another project – say yes. Everyone was in your shoes once in their life and they know how hard is for the first few months. They wouldn’t ask you if they didn’t think you could do it or if they didn’t think you were ready. Show them what you can do and show them they made a smart decision by hiring you.
These are just a few things I wish I knew coming out of school and into my career. You should feel proud about all of the hard work you put in to get where you are, but the hard work doesn’t stop there. As Peter Campbell once said, “Stable is that step backwards between successful and failure.”