A fact about entering the working world, that many fail to realize, is that if you are not willing to making some sort of sacrifice in your early working years, your current realities will never develop into the larger goals you’ve set for yourself.
You have to make sacrifices, no matter how big or small. Whether that be working a 9-5 job, then hitting the pavement to pursue your passion. Whether that sacrifice means moving to another country to chase an overarching goal. Whether that sacrifice means working two jobs, week-in and week-out or pulling in the reigns on your budget to afford that dream house.
Weighing your options and making a sacrifice for a greater goal is the lesson I’ve learned upon entering the work force.
My sacrifice? Trading income for invaluable experience.
But I’ve only joined the 9-5 army recently and, since doing so, I have looked to my core group of girlfriends who have all made their own personal sacrifices to get them where they are today.
I asked them: what things might you have told yourself? What insight might you have benefited from knowing before you entered the work force?
What they had to say was nothing short of testament to how hard-working these women really are:
1. No task is beneath you. Even if you are doing something that seems menial, everyone needs to start somewhere. When you look back, you’ll know you’ve paid your dues and worked hard to move up.
2. Make small talk with everyone you can. Having a good, friendly reputation will always benefit you.
3. Get as much experience as you can. Don’t just do what is required; reach out to your supervisors and volunteer for anything you can to build your knowledge and skills. You never know what these experiences will lead to and how they will prepare you for your next job.
4. Look your best. Our appearance is the first thing that we’re judged on. Dressing well and taking care in your appearance matters. Plus, when you look good, you feel good.
5. Work hard and get everything you can out of your job. Your first job is going to mold your path – so soak it all in. Get absolutely everything you can out if it. Find people you look up to and learn from them. Do the best you can to exceed expectations. Appreciate every opportunity that is given to you.
1. I learned this one before heading into the work force, but JUST before: getting a job is hard. Like, really hard. Applying for jobs in your field, with little experience and little encouragement, or sometimes even acknowledgement, may be one of the biggest lessons you learn about life in the real world. Put effort into everything you do, even when you’re getting no reward from it. Keep Calm. Problem solve. Think outside the box. Persevere. And when your hard work pays off, accept what comes with humility and the knowledge you’re going to have to keep working just as hard to stay there. Or better yet, move up.
2. Unless you come from an affluent family, or are blessed by some other source of financial security – you work for the life you want. If you want to live a certain lifestyle, you better be ready to earn it. And if you feel like you’re entitled to coast, then don’t complain about the fruits of other people’s labour. Long hours, a starting salary and being at the bottom of the food chain is called paying your dues. Good things come to those who hustle, kid.
3. Just because you all work in the same field, doesn’t mean you might all be like-minded individuals. Be patient and get ready to adapt to your colleagues’ ideas and work styles.
4. Being a young female in a male dominated field (or any other minority in any workplace) is not anything to dwell on. It’s an opportunity to surprise people with your knowledge, work ethic and creativity. Relish in that.
5. In your mid-twenties, you’re looking at 30+ more years of work (at least!). Dream jobs may not come easily, or even exist, but life’s too short to not to be happy with how you spend your time. Even if at the end of the day you can feel you made a small difference, to someone, you’ll feel like you accomplished something. And as evidenced by the above four points, be proud of those accomplishments. You owe it to yourself.
1. It’s OK to ask for help. Sometimes I try to figure out everything on my own, which in the beginning can turn into a waste of time and energy if you really just need some direction. Don’t be afraid to reach out to someone more experienced until you are familiar with what is needed of you.
2. That being said, listen closely and try not to assume or over ask of people who have their own jobs to do. Sponge everything you learn, take notes and apply yourself.
3. Criticism (of the constructive variety) is a wonderful thing. Embrace, understand and mold criticism into a great version of yourself.
4. Then again, if you’re young (and sadly, worse if you’re a woman) – people may automatically assume you’re naive or slightly incapable. Hold your chin up and prove them wrong.
5. Find mentors in your workplace by recognizing those who are like-minded or in a position you hope to someday be in. Acquaint yourself with them, ask to go for a coffee and learn new things as quickly as you can. Your drive will be recognized, and they will never feel annoyed by someone who is recognizing an opportunity to learn