Friday, June 30, 2006

If I Knew Then, What I Know Now…

… I probably would have stayed in the surreal, warm playpen of university fuzziness, rather than taking a spiraling nosedive into the icy abyss reality of the real dog-eat-dog world… because it was not at all what they promised.

If I could do it all again, to start, I’d have done an internship, because an internship allows you to step inside the exotic world of your chosen field and learn about the culture, type of work, expectations and, well, just how exotic your chosen field may be. Similarly, an internship helps build confidence in your abilities, and a chance to see how your skills can contribute to the overall success of an organisation. Finally, internships provide graduating students with a valuable means to building professional networks - connections that can be extremely helpful in securing future positions.

I’d also become a duck. Because reality is not reality… perception is actually reality. If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s probably a duck (‘probably’ being the operative word). How people ‘perceive’ you is how you really are. If you speak with firm authority (even if you are nervous wreck inside) you will be perceived as authoritative. So, when the boss walks in, have something significant to ask or suggest, and show keen interest and understanding. If you're perceived as an early starter, that is how you will be considered - regardless of what you are doing. Staying late rarely gets you noticed; but being at work before others certainly does. Use this time to work on matters that will advance your career. If you behave like management material you'll be perceived as such. Get these realities embedded in your mind and start living them from Day One.

If I knew then, what I know now, I may not have gone out of my way to be liked by everyone. That's not to say you should to be Mr. Grinch, but if there are people who don't fit your desire to improve, you’re under no contractual obligation to hang around with them. In practically every firm, there is a carnival of whiners; rumourmongers and malicious corrupters... and these people are poison. Contrary to popular belief, one bad apple can spoil the whole barrel, and they’ll happily walk barefoot across broken glass to have a gossip with anyone who will listen. Do not step into this quicksand – it is a drain on your motivation. Surround yourself with optimists, idea-generators and the energetic. Moreover, most managers pretty well know who the doers are and who the wasters are. Associate with idlers and you'll be guilty by, well… association. Run with the doers and you'll be part of a valuable network.

By the same token, don't do other people’s work. By all means, offer suggestions - two heads are better than one - but don't do the work for them. People will usually find a solution if forced to.

Work smart, not hard. Identify and work on important items; everything else is treading water. However, having written that, don’t totally ignore the routine stuff. This you should either systematize or delegate (if authorised). Having a systematic way of doing the everyday routine gets it done quicker, more efficiently and with far fewer errors. Write your procedures down to get it clear in your head; then look for ways to simplify.

Finally, inquire about training - you'd be surprised what lengths enlightened corporations will go to provide you with the tools you require to succeed if you ask. Give valid reasons, including an aim (what you intend to do with your new knowledge). The more you know, the lower the risk to the managers that promote you.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Keep posting stuff like this i really like it

5:22 pm  

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