I don’t think there’s anything I wished for more in my pre-teen and teen years than to be a grown up and start working so that I could make my own money and not survive on just the occasional allowance (LOL). You remember those days, when you couldn’t understand your parents telling you about not having money even though they had jobs? How?!
All I knew was that my job would be in an office and I would be a force. The details about how and where and why were never part of the vision.
Years later, my vision came to life. I got the jobs, worked in the offices, but I got a whole lot more than I bargained for! There were so many things I was completely unprepared for, so when they happened, they really destabilised by centre. Over the years, self-doubt crept in, I found myself in battles I hadn’t signed up for and many times I felt like I was losing my mind.
Looking back on over ten years in the corporate world, here are five things I wish I had known before I started working.
- You deserve to be there. Imposter syndrome and being made to feel like you should be “grateful” to have a job you’re qualified to do are battles many of us struggle with. Please know that you have earned your space and you are deserving.
- Keep a paper trail. Yes, it is quite admin-intensive, but this is one of the best habits to teach yourself from the get-go. Always protect yourself by keeping a paper trail of emails, recaps of face-to-face interactions and instructions given to you.
- Be alert. Take time to figure out who the key players in your environment are, how they operate and what agenda they’re driving. Everyone has an agenda, identify sponsors whose agendas are aligned with yours and work to build those relationships so that they may be assets for your career. Sponsors are the people who will vouch for you and plead your case in rooms you don’t have access to. We all need them.
- Read and understand policies. I cannot stress enough how important it is to know a company’s processes so that you are equipped for any situation you may be faced with. From your offer letter, to your employment contract, performance contract, HR policies, IT policies, social media policies – everything. Read it. Know it. Understand it.
- Use your voice. The sooner you teach yourself to push past the discomfort of conflict in the workplace, the sooner you’ll learn how to navigate it. There will be many situations that will lead to some level of conflict with colleagues and, sometime, your boss. Spend time learning ways to deal with conflict in a professional way that still empowers you.