My early career mistakes
I still distinctly remember being a fresh graduate, excited to finally get out into the real world and earn cash in return for my hard work. I thought the worst had passed in my university years.
So off I went, to travel the world and develop my Private Banking career at the ripe age of 22. I know it sounds glamorous, but honestly, it was nothing but. Of course, the career path I chose had its rewards, but it also brought with it many anxious days and nights, moments of deep sadness and hopelessness.
Now, twelve years later (damn, did you just calculate my age?), I genuinely wish I had known what I know now. I could have avoided common early career mistakes and saved myself the embarrassment of crying in the ladies bathroom.
Here are (just!) a few of my early career mistakes; I’m sure you’ve already committed some of the below mentioned career crimes.
1- Pursuing a career because you’re simply told it’s a good field to be in, your father/uncle was XYZ, you’ll make good money, or any other variations of someone else telling you what to do with the rest of your life.
I personally had no clue what I wanted to become when I grew up. How was I even expected to know? I still got teary at Little House on the Prairie reruns for God’s sake! So I scratched my head for about five minutes, and applied for a bachelor in commerce with a finance major, because that’s what all the cool kids were doing, or so I was told.
Listen, I’m good at what I do, of course. But do I wish I had pursued something else given the chance? Probably. Okay, yes. I wish I had spent more time researching various fields, applying for summer internships, doing anything basically to make sure I would be passionate about my future career.
Lesson learnt: Don’t rush into deciding your career path.
2- Staying too long in a company that didn’t value my hard work.
It took me finally quitting my first job and getting hired somewhere else to get a 40 percent salary increase. Of course my first job laid down the foundation for my wonderful work ethic but I wasn’t getting compensated for it in return. I don’t know why it was so hard for me to tear myself away from that first company. Long gone are the days when our parents used to put in 40 years in the same company, doing the same thing for the same crappy pay. If you don’t feel valued, in any way, and I’m not speaking only about monetary compensation, find something else and quit. Money doesn’t motivate an employee as much as praise and promotion. We’re blessed to live in a world full of options people, so use them.
Lesson learnt: If they don’t value you, find another employer who will.
3- Not standing up to bullies at work.
I’m no stranger to bullies in the workplace. You know the kind that purposely leaves you out of team lunches, or whispers to their colleague when you pass by them, or even worse, tries to make you feel marginalized and very alone every single day. I don’t know why I used to keep quiet. I wish I had cornered those arrogant inconsiderate self-centered jerks, took them to a meeting room and asked them point blank what their problem was.
Lesson learnt: Corner bullies and show them who’s boss.
4- Not realizing it’s just a job in the end and doesn’t determine my self worth.
I used to drive myself crazy when a deal would fall through or something wouldn’t go my way at the office. It would destroy me for days, leaving me sad and moody, pouting at all times, even to the cashier at the grocery store. Actually I still have a hard time with that. But I’m slowly coming to realize that I’m freaking awesome and I always give it my all. It’s a job in the end. It doesn’t determine who I am or what I’m capable of in this world. And anybody who uses your career as a determinant of your worth is not even worth your time quite frankly.
Lesson learnt: A job is a job in the end, and you’re still freaking awesome.