A year ago, I wrote a guest blog for 1871 called 5 Tips From a Young Team Member at a Rapidly Growing Startup. Although I had interned and worked part-time at AE Marketing Group while finishing school, I started full time as Marketing Manager a few months before this article was released.
Now that I have been in my current role with AE for a full year, all of these tips still reign true. However, after this year, I have gained a deeper understanding of our customers, our work, and what it takes to attain success in the corporate world. While everyone’s careers, and especially first jobs, differ, if you are entering the workforce for the first time, these lessons learned can apply to almost any position in any industry.
You won’t always have all the answers and that’s okay
When you first start out, it can be very intimidating to work with people who are far more experienced than yourself. You will likely feel that everyone else has all the answers and you don’t. While this certainly is not always true, it sometimes will be, and that’s okay. However, you should try to learn as much as you can from as many people as you can. Being surrounded by co-workers or managers with more experience than you is a blessing, not a curse, because you have so much to learn from them. In the meantime, you must become comfortable saying, “I don’t know, but I can find out” or “Let me look into that and get back to you.” As long as you are willing to learn, or do the legwork to find answers, no one will fault you for not having all the answers all the time.
Ps. Don’t fret, because those who do have more experience than you, don’t always have all the answers either.
Be a sponge
If you are ever presented the opportunity to join a meeting, participate in a pitch, sit in on a presentation, or attend an industry event – DO IT! You have nothing to lose and everything to gain from taking full advantage of every opportunity presented to you.
The biggest mistake you can make is remaining silent
You were hired for a reason. So, when you are included in meetings or discussions, keeping quiet can only hurt you. Speak up and voice your ideas and opinions. Make your presence felt and your voice heard in every meeting, especially when customers are involved, to establish credibility.
Constantly look for ways to add value
If you’re young in your career, you are likely not managing large teams or bringing in slews of new business. However, you can still add a great amount of value to your team and your customers by making their lives easier. If you are proactive with customers and provide materials you know they’ll need before they need to ask for them, that adds value. If you take meeting minutes and send them out to your team afterward, that also adds value. Making someone’s life easier can be done in a plethora of different ways, but it will always make a big difference.
Within your given role and responsibilities, make sure you are delivering on everything you are tasked with. If you prove that you can not only handle but exceed expectations, on the work you are given, you will set yourself up well to be tasked with more responsibility in the future.
Don’t overthink your title
The world has become so fast-paced that we sometimes expect everything in life to move quickly. However, you want to make sure that you are comfortable, competent, and confident in your current role before trying to move up. You need to be careful what you wish for because you may not be ready to tackle an elevated role or all the extra responsibility that comes with it yet.
When you’re just starting out in your career, whether you are in year one or year five, it is most important to work hard, provide value, and learn as much as you possibly can.