Friday, September 20, 2013

A few words of advice for those beginning their careers

You probably think I have no bearing to talk about this. After all, I'm a fairly young professional myself.  I just got my first career building job offer (yay!) after a year of temping and a couple more of volunteering and waiting tables.  I want it to be known that I don't consider myself an expert on hiring, planning your career or getting your shit together.  However, I did find a couple things helpful in this process-both in terms of figuring out my career and in getting my life together in general. I hope they help you.

Read your offer letter CAREFULLY and make sure that your negotiated salary and benefits are in writing. If it's not in writing, it didn't happen (by the way, for you young'uns, that should be your life motto from the moment you get your first financial aid package. Or job offer, regardless of what you're doing. Or apartment. Or, really, anything that could impact your life).

By the way, don't you ever think for a second, "Oh, my manager/HR said they'll take care of it." Your manager and HR department aren't in charge of your career. You are.  If you want something, you need to ask for it and you better be prepared to back it up, preferably with accomplishments more than "loyalty" or seniority. Do I think this country's fair to its workers? Absolutely, I do not.  I think of getting my dual citizenship with the EU every time I read about our minimum wage or lack of paid maternity leave.  All the same, because of that, you have even more at stake. Don't be afraid to look elsewhere if your job is "stable" (in the world of at-will employment, it's not) and don't be afraid to change your path if you find you're on thin ice.

It also wouldn't hurt to build a strong network of people and to be a person of integrity.  Yes, there are powerful folks who will screw everyone over but, until you're that powerful, your reputation is a currency. Don't waste or underestimate it. And, if you do get that power, remember what it took to get there and pay it forward. No matter how powerful, wealthy, or influential you become, you're never too important to give back.  Guess what? Even a good portion of our millionaires realize that. Don't believe me? Ask Warren Buffet and Dave Ramsey. While you're at it, pick up some Dave Ramsey books.  Too many people in this country go broke when they don't have to.

These aren't only my thoughts but part of a journey of figuring what I want in life.  Whatever we want, we have to figure out how to get there while remembering who we are in the process. This post may seem like it's mostly about careers and it is, but it's also about life.  Let's live it well. 

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