Today’s post is different than anything I’ve posted before. It’s about my job experience.
This morning I listened to an episode of “Almost 30” where they interviewed Sarah Vermunt, author and founder of Careergasm. Sarah shared applicable tips on how to navigate your career at any stage.
I wish I had heard this episode after I graduated from college. It would have been a lifesaver in so many ways.
But now at 27 and nearly four years into my first marketing job, it was reassuring to hear that, for the most part, my job experience and decisions so far have followed her advice. Especially for someone like me who second guesses her decisions and often lets the opinions of others get in the way.
So today I want to share with you three career tips I’ve learned at 27. I hope you find them helpful.
Don’t Take It Personally
I’m a cancer sign through and through. I’m sensitive and emotional and often take things too personally. Honestly, it’s a trait that’s most annoying to deal with professionally. But the difference between emotions inside and outside of the workplace is business.
You’ve heard the phrase, “It’s not personal, it’s business.” And it’s true.
It took me a long while to realize this phrase, and I’d be lying if I said I don’t still get my feelings hurt. We’re human at the end of the day. The best way to get through work is to roll with the punches and not take anything too personally.
Business decisions are often made months in advance with a motive behind them to advance the company in some beneficial way, even if it’s at the expense of someone’s position. I’ve seen this happen to basically the entire marketing department I originally started working with. But you have to take a step back, look at it from a business perspective, and then decide how you’re going to react.
You won’t get anywhere sulking at your desk or having an attitude with your boss because you “think” they might not like you. If you don’t like your situation, find a way to fix it or move on.
SHOP THE LOOK
Make Connections Outside of the Office
Networking sucks. It just does. But it doesn’t have to if you look in the right places.
There will always be generic after work networking events where you meet five men named Michael who work in accounting and have nothing in common with you. Don’t go to those. Instead, seek out networking events around the topics you’re already interested in.
It’s wonderful to establish good working relationships with your co-workers, and absolutely essential. You never know who they could introduce you to. But more connections live outside of the office.
Think of your co-workers as your practice run. They’re the people you want to build a professional relationship first. Once you’ve built up the confidence, take it outside and meet other people in similar or different fields of work.
Hit up a networking, or community event, centered around topics you’re interested in. It’s an easy way to start a conversation with strangers when you know you already have something in common. Or go to an event in an area you might want to be in someday. It’s never too early to capitalize on connections.
Choose a Mentor, Gently
In this podcast interview, Sarah discussed choosing a mentor and the negative reaction you can expect when asking someone to be your mentor when you’ve just met. It’s not the first time I’ve heard someone say this in an interview.
Lesson learned: don’t ask someone you’ve admired to be your mentor when you first meet.
Because, what exactly does that mean? Do you want them to tell you all their career secrets? All their tips on ‘how to make it big’ so you can do the same? No. Take a step back and start small. You JUST met!
Sarah’s tip on choosing your mentor was to choose them silently. Instead of asking someone right away to be your mentor, watch the way they work. Take notes on how they handle situations. Study how they communicate with others. Monitor how they get things done and win big.
This is what I’ve done with my current boss. Instead of putting the pressure on her to be my mentor and take extra time out of her already busy life, I’ve made a habit to make notes on how she carries herself at work. How she handles creating new partnerships, or ending others. How she deals with projects from the executive team.
Study your mentor from afar and keep the notes to have forever.
I’m only 27. I’ve got a long way to go in my career and have a lot left to learn. But these are just a few tips I wish someone had told me in the beginning. What’s the best career advice you’ve ever received?