Posted October 29, 2014 by

The Go-Getters Guide to a Smart Career

Successful career. Winner on the top. Concept 3D illustration

Successful career. Winner on the top. Concept 3D illustration. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

All you youngsters out there that are starting off a new, and very important chapter in life, you’re probably a little jittery about the future. It is scary going into the great unknown that is a career, making hard choices, choosing your life’s path, going to the office every day, and all the other myriad responsibilities that crop up when you make the transformation from free-spirited teenager to career-focused grown up.

The apprehension then, is normal, but that shouldn’t take away from the seriousness of the situation and the possible ramifications of misguided choices made at this stage. So, if a successful career is what you’re looking for, here are some tips, tricks and lessons that will help you achieve just that.

Tips to building a solid career

  • Enroll in a career training program. In life, you never stop learning. Take this literally as well as figuratively. It’s always great to enhance your CV and gain some additional career training to help you do your job better. For instance, consider going back to school or getting some formal career training to brush up your current skills. These courses can now even be pursued from the comfort of your home. Career training institutes like Career Step offer career-focused programs to people looking to accelerate their careers without altering their current lifestyles. Similarly, educational platforms such as Coursera partner with top universities all over the world to provide free online courses for everybody. Plus, these can be taken online, which means you can do it while working full-time too.
  • Dream job vs. dream career. Getting your dream job straight out of college is a near impossibility, getting your dream career isn’t. So don’t settle for anything less than the field of work that you’re passionate about, but also be prepared to take on the most menial tasks when you start out. However, don’t let that deter you either. As a natural filtering system, the junior most member of the firm (you) will get the least interesting tasks, but as long as you’re in the field you love, you will climb up the ladder and get to the good stuff.
  • Start early. The easiest way to get a job in your dream profile or dream firm is by establishing a connection with the firm beforehand. The method with the greatest chance of success then, are internships. Most firms won’t turn down the opportunity to use virtually free labor, and for you, it’s a starting point into the career and company of your choice. Win-win. Companies that you’ve interned with are way more likely to hire you as long as you left them sufficiently impressed, plus making contacts in the industry and gaining some solid work experience will all only enhance your prospects.
  • Talk it out. One of the greatest tips to career advancement is strong communication skills. Your bosses need to know how much good work you’re doing. Your contemporaries need to know what you’re all about in case you want to jump ship somewhere down the line, and your juniors need to know exactly what you expect out of them. Think about it, aren’t you more likely help a colleague, and even work better with one who makes an effort to connect with you?
  • Take risks. This doesn’t mean you bet your bank account on the roulette table, but that if you have an idea or a plan that you think will work, or a suggestion you think will help your company, don’t let the fear of failure allow you to play it safe. Take that chance, ask for a meeting with your boss, and give him your thoughts. If nothing else, you’ll learn why your idea isn’t as good as you thought it was, you’ll get a more rounded perspective, and that will only improve your thinking. And most bosses will appreciate the effort, even if the idea wasn’t so hot.

Ultimately, when it comes to making a mark in the professional world, remember it’s important to be willing to learn, make mistakes, accept responsibility and learn from them; ask for feedback and be open to criticism. Follow your gut; it always knows what you want anyway.

Frida has been working as a career guidance counselor for about 12 years. She’s stayed on top of growing industry trends through market research and interaction with young students and working professional alike.

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